PUTTING ROMAN DAMS IN CONTEXT: A VIRTUAL APPROACH
Water resources and management have become a critical global issue. During the half-millennium of its existence, the Roman Empire developed numerous strategies to cope with water management, from large-scale urban aqueduct systems, to industrial-scale water mills designed to cope with feeding growing city populations. Roman engineers encountered, adopted, and adapted indigenous hydraulic systems, and left lasting imprints on the landscape of the Mediterranean and temperate Western Europe by employing a range of water technologies. A recent academic study has enabled the identification of remains of and references to seventy-two dams from the Roman era, constructed in Spain between the 1st and 4th century AD. Such unique heritage, without comparisons in the Mediterranean makes Spain an emblematic case study for the analysis of Roman hydraulic engineering and water management policies. Fifty dams have been located and detailed. The twenty-two outstanding, although identified on the ground, have not been able to be acceptably characterized, due in some cases to their being ruins in a highly degraded state, others due to their being masked by repairs and reconstructions subsequent to the Roman era. A good example of such neglected dams is the buttress dam of Consuegra , in Toledo province (Castilla-La Mancha). Dating to the 3rd - 4th century AD, the Dam of Consuegra, on the basin of the Guadiana, with its over 600 metres length and 4,80 metres height, is a remarkable case of Roman engineering mastery. It had a retaining wall upstream, numerous buttresses and perhaps an embankment downstream, of which no remains are left. The application of 3D digital imaging technique to create a high quality virtual model of such monuments has proved to be successful especially for the study of the technological aspects related its construction. The case study of the Roman dam of Muel (Zaragoza) has shown, in fact, as best practices in digital archaeology can provide an original and innovative perspective on a long time studied monument. In this paper it will be explored how deploying recent computer technologies to the Roman dam at Consuegra can advance our understanding of the history of local and regional landscape change and the technology of water management. In summer 2016, the dam has been documented with terrestrial laser scanning with two FARO Focus 3D x330 and aerial photogrammetry image capturing with a DJI Phantom 4 drone. Data was processed in various 3D software applications to generate 3D representations of the dam including 3D point clouds, animations, and meshed models.