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Feeding the roman army in the western Maghreb.
Multidisciplinary approach for the study of the army's grain supply in the southern limit of the Roman Empire (province of Mauretania Tingitana)

Final Report Summary - FRAWM (Feeding the roman army in the western Maghreb.Multidisciplinary approach for the study of the army's grain supply in the southern limit of the Roman Empire (province of Mauretania Tingitana))

The FRAWM project intended to explore the problem of military grain supply and the role of the army in the territory of ancient North African Maghreb, specifically in the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana (present day Morocco). A comprehensive and detailed study on the system of the army’s grain supply still didn’t exist in this southern limit of the Empire. Looking at the recent posthumous publication by M. Lenoir “Le camp romain. Proche-Orient et Afrique du Nord” (2011), the territory of the Mauretania Tingitana is characterised by the presence of ten military camps dating between the 1st century A.D. and the 5th century A.D. INSAP’s (Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine) recent archaeological prospection mission led by Director Prof. Aomar Akerraz at the river basin Loukkos has shown that three further military camps are situated along the eastern border of the province (El Knayez; Lamdanna; El Mers).
The first objective of FRAWM was the identification of the storage buildings with a geomagnetic survey (Fluxgate gradiometer) in the auxiliary forts that formed the military network on the ancient Moroccan frontier (Appendix I). The second objective was to investigate the territorial reference context, the influence of the army on the local population and the consequent changes in local economic and social patterns. The interdisciplinary approach included the application of different methodologies: excavation, archaeological, geoarchaeological and geological research, archaeobotanical analyses, geophysical prospections, as well as new software applications (Laser scanner 3D).
The project FRAWM in fact was based on the work-packages (WP) with an interdisciplinary approach applying different methods and combining several groups of data. The research started at INSAP, the most important and high-level organisation actively involved in archaeological research. A real laboratory-based approach for the direct examination of military camps in the province of Mauretania Tingitana was adopted. Regarding the work packages, the project achieved its objectives and technical goals for the outgoing phase and return phase in line with the structure of Annex I of the Grant Agreement. During the outgoing phase the training and research activity were carried out under the supervision of the Director Aomar Akerraz who followed and greatly appreciated the results that were obtained. Here follows a list of the activities:
1. The systematisation of the historical, epigraphic and archaeological information. Research took into account the bibliography on the subject with the systematisation and the study of the data stored in the INSAP archive. For this purpose the exploitation of the partner organisation INSAP library was extremely useful;
2. The study of the geoarchaelogical context and the laboratory based activity and participation in the activities of the geoarchaeological mission directed by the Supervisor A. Akerraz.
The analysis on the field in a particular area of the river basin Loukkos showed that the three military camps of El Knayez, Lamdanna and El Mers, situated along the eastern border of the province, were disappearing because of farm work and the work of construction of water mains. Therefore, as confirmed by Professor Aomar Akerraz (Scientist in charge of the outgoing phase) the geophysical activities in June 2015 (from 1st to 12th) and September 2015 (from 5th to 21st) were particularly useful to the preservation, protection and conservation of the archaeological heritage (geophysical prospection of the military camps at Lalla Djilalya/Tabernae, El Knayez, El Mers, Lamdanna, Azib el-Harrak/Frigidae, El Benian); Clearly significant results were observed in the geophysical prospections that illustrated the buried structures and the rich archaeological patrimony in ancient Morocco (Appendix II and III), in particular the data concerning the military camp El Benian. In fact originally the prospection activities were supposed to be limited to a part of the military camp surface where the location of the warehouses was hypothesised. However, the rich geophysical data extended the research activity to cover the whole military camp area. Indeed geophysical prospections were carried out over a surface area of 39,600 m2, totalling 79,200 points, and 106 km of linear prospections. This data holds a fundamental importance for the safeguarding and valorization of the largest military camp in ancient Morocco with a total surface area of 2.56 hectares. In the outgoing phase the researcher was included in the research and course conducted by INSAP, seminars and also in the organization and planning of the Séminaire-atelier régional sur «Les technologies au service des recherches sur le patrimoine culturel de la Méditerranée occidentale, de sa protection et de sa valorisation» (Rabat, 2-4 mars 2015). In the “Séminaire – atelier régional: Apport des nouvelles technologies à la compréhension, la protection et la valorisation du patrimoine culturel dans le pourtour méditerranéen” (Rabat, Académie du Royaume du Maroc, 25 - 27 mai 2016) the preliminary results of the outgoing phase were presented to over 60 specialists from numerous Mediterranean countries. The return phase was made up of the extension of research (recompilation of the existing information and implementation of information, productive context), data analysis and discussion of the data resulting with the scientist in charge Prof. Catherine Virlouvet. During this period the researcher F. Martorella collaborated with several EFR specialists (historians, archaeologists, epigraphists) and with researchers from other research institutions (University of Siena, IMAA-CNR). As according to the project outline, the researcher played a significant role in the collaboration with EFR. Thanks to the experience gained in the outgoing phase at INSAP by the researcher F. Martorella as well as his organizational skills, EFR entrusted the researcher with the coordination of an architectural survey of two warehouses in the city of Thamugadi/Timgad (Unesco heritage site) in collaboration with the Faculté d’architecture et d’urbanisme de Batna 1 (Algeria). The researcher F. Martorella took care of the organization of the mission and the coordination of the team working on the architectural survey (Appendix IV, V). The mission took place between the 20th to 27th October 2016 and the preliminary results were significant and were presented at the conference of Faculté d’architecture et d’urbanisme de Batna I (Appendix VI). The researcher received a certificate of thanks from the Rector of the University of Batna I (Appendix VII and VIII). In addition, the researcher F. Martorella, the first Marie Curie researcher at the EFR, made it possible for numerous other researchers to access the European funds as regards training and research bursaries from the start of the FRAWM project. Indeed F. Martorella aided the establishment of collaborative relationships with the Agency for the Promotion of European Research. Thanks to him, today the EFR is a Member of the Agency for the Promotion of European Research.
The researcher has always shown a strong tendency and willingness to acquire new knowledge and a great capability to start new research projects. The skills that he has developed first in archaeology, then in geoarchaeology and geophysics, then in Roman history, have enabled him to use and integrate different methods of approach. The host organization INSAP has assured mentoring and professional development activities. Complementary and transferable skills helped the researcher to acquire new competencies, especially for preparing other research project, learning best practices of project organisation and management (see new cooperation agreements between EFR and North African institutions as the University of Batna 1), as well as for coordinating and supervising technical staff (see mission of the architectural survey of the two warehouses at Thamugadi/Timgad in Algeria). The experience of the Marie Curie IOF at the INSAP and EFR has allowed F. Martorella to acquire new knowledge, to enhance his skills, expanding partnerships at International level. In fact, F. Martorella has always demonstrated a strong independence in making strategic choices and has a predisposition towards interdisciplinary cooperation for the achievement of common goals.