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Handout from the 2007 season Open Day

Publication: (available online):
Lockyear, K., T. Sly and A. Popescu with contributions from Mihaela Ciausescu, Clive Orton, Jane Sidell and Robin Symonds (2006-2007). 'The Noviodunum Archaeological Project 2000-2004: results and conclusions from the pilot seasons.' Peuce, New Series, 3-4, pp. 121-158.

Summary Report of the 2004 Season

The 2004 season of the Noviodunum Archaeological Project (NAP) was funded by the British Academy (SG: 38630) and ran for three weeks from 17th August to the 7th September 2004. The overall aim of the season was to enhance work from previous seasons prior to publication and to lay the ground work for the proposed second phase of the project. In detail this included:

  1. continuation of the on-site pick-up survey aiming to join the two zones completed in 2003;
  2. continuation of the resistivity survey, particularly towards the south of the site;
  3. trials with magnetometry to assess its potential on the site;
  4. experiments with the “spot” pick-up survey technique in off-site situations;
  5. additional topographic survey;
  6. completion of all pottery processing and analysis including new material retrieved in 2004;
  7. reconnaissance in the hinterland to define the edges of the proposed hinterland survey and assess the potential for environmental reconstruction.

All these tasks were undertaken and completed.

Pick-up survey

Continuing from work undertaken in 2003, detailed pick-up survey was continued on site joining the two zones which were to the SE and SW of the site. About 500 83cm radius spot samples were collected on a ten meter grid (Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4).


Fig. 1: Adrian Popescu undertaking pick-up survey using the “spot” or “dog-leash” method.


Fig. 2: Distribution of all sherds on the site showing the location of the 2003/4 survey.
[Click on the map above to see an enlargement in a separate window]


Fig. 3: Distribution of Roman pottery from the 2003 and 2004 surveys.
[Click on the map above to see an enlargement in a separate window]


Fig. 4: Distribution of Byzantine pottery from the 2003 and 2004 surveys.
[Click on the map above to see an enlargement in a separate window]

It was found most efficient to use a total station to put in a framework of points and tapes to locate the intermediate spots. Observations were made regarding bias in the samples (Fig. 5).


Fig. 5: Team member Genevieve Shaw examines a survey point with biased data! We moved the collection point.

The spot technique was also trialled in an off-site situation (Fig. 6).


Fig. 6: A recently ploughed field in the hinterland of Noviodunum showing the size of fields in the region.

The sample size remained the same, but the spacing was extended to 30m. Two 120m wide transects were walked, one across a field which was known to contain a Roman and prehistoric site, the second across a field thought not to contain a site (Fig. 7).


Fig. 7: Piloting the off-site version of the “spot” field walking technique.

The ends of the transects were located using a hand-held GPS (Fig. 8).


Fig. 8: Helen Stamp plots in the end of a row of off-site survey points using a hand-held GPS.

It was found that the easiest way of laying out the transects was to use the total station to plot in the centre line, and use tapes and an optical right angle to plot in the outside transects (Figs. 9, 10).


Fig. 9: Mark Tibble moving tapes during the off-site field survey.


Fig. 10: Kris Lockyear using an optical square to lay out survey points during the off site field survey.

Approximately one kilometre a day can be walked in this way by a team of five. Initial informal observations indicated that the technique did indeed identify the existence of the sites and will be an effective method of extensive field survey.

All the ceramics from both sets of pick-up survey were washed, marked, identified and catalogued during the field season and further analysis is underway (Fig. 11).


Fig. 11: Roman pottery expert Robin Symonds surveys the material picked up during the field survey.

Topographic Survey

Additional, but non-essential, topographic survey was undertaken on a limited scale due to the needs of the other forms of survey for grid points (Fig. 12).


Fig. 12: Setting up the total station.

This consisted mainly of surveying “tops” and “toes” of topographic features originally surveyed in 2000 when a malfunction in the Total Station hindered the recording of survey codes. This additional data improves the creation of the contour model of the site.

Geophysical survey

Two RM15 Resistance meters were available and were set-up to undertake a twin probe survey with a 1m probe separation for greater depth resolution.

An area of 180 x 60m was surveyed towards the southern edge of the site where pick-up survey had indicated a concentration of Roman period finds (Fig. 13).


Fig. 13: Training the team in geophysical survey.

The results were disappointing and seem to largely show the destruction of the upper levels of the site, probably by agricultural work in the post war period.

As a result of the lack of success in the first area, it was decided to return to surveying the top of the fort in the hopes of being able to trace the line of the fortress walls. A further 8,400m2 were surveyed in difficult terrain (Fig. 14).


Fig. 14: Resistance survey on the southern slopes of the Roman fortress.

The results show that the wall does not continue in a straight line along the SE facing side of the fortress, but contains an indentation or bay in front of the Turkish fortress, thus following the topography more closely than had been previously thought. The results of this area will be integrated with the surveys undertaken in 2002 and 2003.

Trial magnetometry with a Geoscan FM18 fluxgate magnetometer showed that the technique was less influenced by the high voltage overhead power cables than was feared. A sample area coinciding with the western end of the first resistivity survey failed to reveal any archaeologically meaningful features. It proved very difficult to “balance” the magnetometer on the top of the fortress and it was decided to abandon this in favour of completing the resistance survey.


Reconnaissance in the hinterland of the site was carried out during the first week by Drs Popescu and Sidell. The hinterland area for the proposed second phase of the Project was defined and plotted using hand-held GPS, and sites with potential for future environmental work were identified. A Roman and Byzantine site was located near the shores of the Danube a kilometer to the west of the village of Parches.

Publication and Future work

The results of all four survey seasons (2000, 2002–4) will be published in the Journal of Roman Archaeology. Further work will continue on the site and the hinterland in 2005.

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