Journal article Open Access

A Remote Sensing Approach for Exploring Ancient Traffic

Kalayci Tuna

Ancient landscapes of movement are challenging to conceptualize. Moving agents did not leave much material evidence behind other than their continuous use of pathways and roadways –unless the road was intentionally built. Under special morphological conditions, this repetitive practice carved the landscape in such a way that the proof of past movements survived until today. In one of these cases, the Early Bronze Age road network in Upper Mesopotamia provides
ample evidence for a reconstruction of landscapes of movement. In realization of this opportunity, this study aims to explore ancient traffic through satellite remote sensing. Particularly, the study pushes the agenda for not only mapping the road network, but also understanding the volume of traffic. To accomplish this, the methodology relies on Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data for the investigation of the relationship between soil compaction and vegetation health. It is hypothesized that variations in the ancient traffic differentially changed soil physical characteristics so that past variation is still detectable in modern environmental data, albeit only
through the study of proxy variables. Comparison of NDVI values over the Early Bronze Age roads suggests differential use. Results of the study also open a new research avenue for studying the morphology of ancient roads with the same proxy data.

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