The Via Appia, ‘Queen of Roads’, became a hallmark of the political and cultural presentation of the city of Rome as the centre of the then existing world, and is still seen as an iconic monument of ancient Rome. Since 2009 the department of Classical Archaeology of the Radboud University Nijmegen has started a field work project in close collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, named ‘Mapping the Via Appia’. The project aims at a thorough inventory and analysis of the Roman interventions in their suburban landscape, focusing on parts of the 5th and 6th mile of the road. The stretch starts where the modern Via di Erode Attico crosses the Via Appia antica and ends at the point where the Via di Casal Rotondo crosses the ancient road. Other partners are the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences and the SPINlab of the VU University Amsterdam, and the Soprintendenza Speciale per I Beni Archeologici di Roma.
The wealth of archaeological monuments preserved both above and beneath ground level as well as the opulent documentary evidence in archives and digital resources (mainly photographs), make a very detailed multidisciplinary analysis of the history of the road and its surroundings possible. At the same time, this huge amount of wide-ranging data poses some methodological challenges and requires the development of new documentation and analysis strategies. The complex architectural design of several monuments, as well as the detailed archival records, have resulted in an archaeological and historical landscape which cannot be studied by only using established recording systems like regional field survey projects.
(source: official project website)
The project makes large use of 3D GIS data to produce, both, a record of the present state of the place and an hypothetical restoration based on archaeological data. Previews and simulations of the 3D models are available on the project website along with a discussion of the workflow and the software used. Digital tools and code developed within that framework are available on the project's GitHub.