The view from ‘pre-Crusader’ Shawbak: towards a first contextualization through GIS visibility and spatial analyses


  • Giacomo Ponticelli University of Florence



Jordan, GIS, Byzantine, Shawbak, forts, watchtowers, viewshed


The view from ‘pre-Crusader’ Shawbak: towards a first contextualization through GIS visibility and spatial analyses

The purpose of this study is to provide a first preliminary interpretation of part of the evidence from Shawbak castle which attests to the presence of a ‘pre-Crusader, probably Byzantine fort. The strategic features of the location of the fort, in particular a great abundance of water resources, made it indeed strategically advantageous during the Crusader period and in the later Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. Stratigraphic evidence from readings of extant buildings and excavations revealed that the first Crusader foundation of the castle was laid out upon the remains of a LateRoman/Byzantine fortification identified in different parts of the castle. The presence of such fortification should probably be considered contextual to the presence of major forts and potential watchtower sites that have been documented by previous surveys in the area, in particular, a system of strategic locations depending on the castellum of Da’janiya betweenthe Desert highway to the east and the Via Nova Traiana to the west. The need to protect the fertile strip of land east of Shawbak and the natural resources of the area might have required a system of visual control attested to in other nearby regions, which could have involved a signaling network in communication with Shawbak. In this paper, a series of visibility analyses are proposed in order to demonstrate that such system could have worked for Byzantine Shawbak.


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How to Cite

Ponticelli, Giacomo. 2020. “The View from ‘pre-Crusader’ Shawbak: Towards a First Contextualization through GIS Visibility and Spatial Analyses”. Studies in Ancient Art and Civilisation 24 (December):153-68.