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Declassified Spy Photos Reveal Ancient Roman Walls In Romania

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Archaeologists in Britain have discovered what appears to be a series of Roman fortifications dating back to the 2 nd century AD by examining declassified spy photos taken during World Wars I and II, as well as images made by American spy satellites during the Cold War.

The entire structure ran about 37 miles across modern-day Romania from the Danube River to the Black Sea. In some parts, the system of walls and forts may have once stood 28 feet wide and more than 11 feet high.

The discovery reveals that the Roman conquest of the region was far more elaborate than originally thought and indicates that the area had been heavily militarized and carefully controlled during the Roman period.

The ancient ruins had once been known to 19th-century researchers, however, they were subsequently misidentified, dismissed and largely forgotten, according to Bill Hanson, a professor of Roman archaeology at the University of Glasgow.

"If you look at any modern book on Roman frontiers, you will find no mention of [these fortifications]," Hanson said. "[They have] kind of disappeared from consciousness."

The purpose of the project, explain senior archaeology lecturer at the University of Exter Dr Ioana Oltean, was to systematically map all archaeological remnants visible from the air and "to use this data to understand the impact of the Roman conquest on indigenous landscape and communities."

The project highlights the potential of aerial archaeology, a technique that has been used by researchers for some time, but has been enhanced recently by tools such as satellite photos and Google Maps. These tools have allowed archaeologists and laymen alike to identify sites of historical significance, such as long-lost pyramids in Egypt and an ancient site in Chile .

By April Holloway

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