Sotto Siena – SoS

In 2015 LAP&T initiated a prgramme of GPR data collection in the city’s Piazza del Campo and in part of the Piazza Duomo. The work carried out through use of a cutting-edge radar system designed by StreamX of Pisa implemented by Geostudi Astier of Livorno. The experimental work within the Piazza del Campo has amply demonstrated the potential of the georadar technique in this kind of context and on the basis of the results so far achieved a new research initiative has been launched under the title of SOS which is the international call for help by ships and sailors at sea – ‘Save Our Souls’ but in our case the acronym means, SOtto Siena (Beneath Siena, SOS).

Fig.1 – Siena, Piazza del Campo, the Cathedral and the historical city centre of the city of Siena

The project is designed to undertake an innovative study of the urban archaeology of the city based on three principal lines of research.

  1. The first entails the creation of a web-based 3D Archaeological Information System for the subsoil of the city, accessible by desktop, mobile and virtual reality devices.
  2. Alongside the development of this  GIS a second line of research will entail the acquisition and refinement of STREAM X GPR data for all of the public spaces such as streets, squares, courtyards and gardens that are at least theoretically accessible within the city for the mapping of archaeological features  (and underground services) down to a depth of about 3m; the technical cartography for the city suggests that (given the necessary permissions) this will make available an estimated  25 hectares of surveyable area as illustrated in figure 2.
  3. The third element in the project will focus on identification of all existing archaeological, historical and geological information about the city and its representation in a GIS platform; this elementy of the project designwill also be devoted to the development of interpretative frameworks for the radar data, permitting its integration and progressive combination with of the documentation and future results from within the city.

The final goal aimed to develop for the Italian Archaeological Superintendence (South Tuscany) new digital tools suitable for a better knowledge and understanding of landscapes under her responsibility. The case of the historical urban area of Siena is particularly representative since it is characterized by several unpublished data and with a large quantity of areas which have never been investigated. The availably of information detected in the past and the acquisition of new data can offer a completely new outlook for the archaeology of Siena with a direct impact on historical development but also on everyday life, urban planning strategy and further increasing the attractivity of the city.

Fig.2 – Cartographic representation at a scale of 1:2000 of the city of Siena, showing in red the open spaces in which it may be possible to undertale GPR survey.

Integrating geophysical prospection within the archaeological GIS of Siena providing NEW UNDERSTANDING of the transformation of the ancient cities OVER THE LARGE SCALE but also an extraordinary tool for the local administration mapping archaeological features and utilities.