Remote Sensing Technology Uncovers 66 “Hidden” Roman Bases In Spain

Remote Sensing Technology Uncovers 66 “Hidden” Roman Bases In Spain

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Utilizing advanced aerial imaging and state-of-the-art remote sensing techniques, a team of historical and archaeological researchers have been able to chart the location of 66 previously undiscovered Roman bases in Northern Spain . These newly discovered sites have been dated to the end of the first century BC. They reveal the lasting footprints of temporary settlements that were built to support the Roman army’s ongoing campaign to conquer the entire Iberian Peninsula, which the Romans called Hispania. Up until the 1990s AD, only a small number of Roman bases had ever been detected in Northern Spain. This led to speculation that few battles had occurred there and the belief that Rome had never deployed its military en masse in this region. But thanks to the advent of digital sensing capabilities and more precise airborne photographic technology, more and more signs of Roman activity in the area have been revealed. This impressive recent discovery shows that the Romans actually had a major military presence in this part of the Iberian Peninsula.

Roman bases found with high-tech scanning and imaging techniques in the area around Castile, Northern Spain, as published in the recent breakthrough research paper. (

High-tech Reveals Extensive Footprint Of Iberian Roman Bases

The material evidence of these Roman bases was long ago destroyed or buried deep under the soil. But the abandoned forts and fortified enclosures , and the people who once occupied them, still left behind subtle traces of human activity that trained observers were able to spot.

“We have identified so many sites because we used different types of remote sensing ,” said Dr. João Fonte , an archaeological researcher from the University of Exeter who participated in the study (the results of which were published in December in the journal Geosciences). “Airborne laser scanning gave good results for some sites in more remote places because it showed earthworks really well. Aerial photography worked better in lowland areas for the detection of cropmarks.”

The Roman bases were found in the foothills of mountainous terrain in northwestern Spain, in the northernmost section of the River Duero Basin.

“The remains are of temporary camps that the Roman Army set up when moving through hostile territory or when carrying out maneuvers around their permanent bases,” Fonte explained. “They reveal the intense Roman activity at the entrance to the Cantabrian Mountains during the last phase of the Roman conquest of Hispania.”

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The northern seacoast of Spain lies just over the Cantabrian range on the other side. This means the Spanish indigenous resistance had been pushed back almost as far back as it could go, signaling that the end of their struggle to maintain their independence was near.

The researchers used high-tech aerial scans and imaging to much more easily find what was long ago hidden from sight beneath the soils of Northern Spain. (

The Roman Empire In Hispania

The terrifying scope and vision of the Roman campaign to overrun and rule the Iberian Peninsula is revealed through its astonishing length. The Romans first moved onto the territory currently occupied by Spain and Portugal in 218 BC, and they stayed there until the last remnant of indigenous resistance collapsed in 19 AD.

The Roman motivations for the invasion of Hispania were complex. They certainly included territorial ambitions. The Iberian Peninsula is massive, covering an area of 225,196 square miles (583,254 square kilometers). Gaining unfettered access to the Atlantic Ocean through the Strait of Gibraltar and coastal settlements was undoubtedly another goal of the Romans, since control of the seas has always been vital for every empire.

They also hoped to secure ample quantities of valuable natural resources, including gold and tin, which they believed could be found in abundance in Hispania. Finally, they used Hispania as a military proving ground, where Roman generals and soldiers could be tested in battle and new or innovative tactics could be tried out, before being used in campaigns against other enemies.

The Roman attitude toward Hispania reveals a young and vigorous imperial power in its prime, filled with self-confidence and self-assurance. They were not intimidated by the challenges of conquering such a large landmass with so many indigenous settlements, which if acting in unity could have presumably formed the core of an effective resistance. They were not discouraged by the unfathomable investment of time (237 years) it required to fully seize control of the peninsula, which only occurred under the authority of the very first Roman Emperor, Augustus, in 19 AD.

Instead, they saw their victory in Hispania as inevitable. The investment of time and loss of life entailed in the centuries-long campaign on the Iberian Peninsula was simply the price of doing business, and more than worth it, if the result was the establishment of an enduring and unconquerable empire that extended all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

And don't forget the ancient Italians left more than Roman bases across Iberia such as this Roman temple still standing in Evora, Portugal. (ho visto nina volare from Italy / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Uncovering Still More Roman Secrets

The discovery of the ancient Roman bases in Northern Spain offers a snapshot from the distant past, taking us back to a moment in time when final triumph and vindication were near (from the Roman perspective). The Roman invasion had begun in the south of Spain and Portugal more than two centuries earlier, and their massive deployment of soldiers in a concentrated region in the north in the late first century BC made it clear that they were closing in on total victory.

Through detailed analysis of the airborne imagery captured and the three-dimensional models generated from that data, archaeologists and historians will be able to learn more about the specifics of Roman activity in Hispania in the days shortly before the region was annexed into the empire.

Their studies will help fill in some of the blanks that have existed up until this time, giving researchers more insight into the exact nature of Roman military tactics, and the logistical efforts and strategies they relied on to make those tactics work.

Archaeologists Found Dozens of Ancient Roman Army Camps in the Coolest Way

Traces of Rome&rsquos conquest of Spain are still visible 2,000 years later.

  • Archaeologists have discovered evidence of 66 new Roman military camps in northern Spain.
  • The camps were part of Rome&rsquos 200-year conquest of what it called Hispania.
  • The scientists found the camps using sensors, online mapping tools, and drones.

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of dozens of Roman military camps in northern Spain, ferreting out their location thousands of years later. The scientists discovered the camps, set by Roman legions during the pacification of Hispania, using a combination of online maps, satellite photography, lidar, and drones.

One of the oldest features of military life is the armed camp. Armies on the move must prepare positions to spend the night, take shelter from the elements, or train. In antiquity&mdashand even today&mdasharmies typically have exacting procedures for setting temporary quarters.

Some of these camps, it turns out, leave such an imprint on the environment that they can be detected centuries later. In today&rsquos northern Spain (known in Roman times as Hispania Ulterior), scientists have discovered 66 new camps scattered across the region, increasing the number of known camp positions by one-third.

The scientists discovered the camps in the León, Palencia, Burgos, and Cantabria provinces. Roman troops likely used them while pacifying the region as the Roman empire slowly absorbed it.

Rome&rsquos armies, like armies everywhere, used standardized procedures to streamline operations. A typical Roman camp was rectangular in nature, with locations for the commander&rsquos tent, defensive positions, and other features all planned out. Camps were typically set on flat terrain near sources of fresh water.

Archaeologists Found Dozens of Ancient Roman Army Camps in the Coolest Way

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of 66 new Roman military camps in northern Spain.

The camps were part of Rome’s 200-year conquest of what it called Hispania.

The scientists found the camps using sensors, online mapping tools, and drones.

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of dozens of Roman military camps in northern Spain, ferreting out their location thousands of years later. The scientists discovered the camps, set by Roman legions during the pacification of Hispania, using a combination of online maps, satellite photography, lidar, and drones.

One of the oldest features of military life is the armed camp. Armies on the move must prepare positions to spend the night, take shelter from the elements, or train. In antiquity—and even today—armies typically have exacting procedures for setting temporary quarters.

Some of these camps, it turns out, leave such an imprint on the environment that they can be detected centuries later. In today’s northern Spain (known in Roman times as Hispania Ulterior), scientists have discovered 66 new camps scattered across the region, increasing the number of known camp positions by one-third.

The scientists discovered the camps in the León, Palencia, Burgos, and Cantabria provinces. Roman troops likely used them while pacifying the region as the Roman empire slowly absorbed it.

Rome’s armies, like armies everywhere, used standardized procedures to streamline operations. A typical Roman camp was rectangular in nature, with locations for the commander’s tent, defensive positions, and other features all planned out. Camps were typically set on flat terrain near sources of fresh water.

Even now, 2,000 years later, there are only so many places in northern Spain that a large army unit can set up camp. In this case, researchers also used data from the Spanish National Geographic Institute, Google Maps, and Bing mapping resources, as well as lidar and drones. Through field work and melding together different sets of imagery, the scientists found subtle traces of previously undiscovered camps.

From João Fonte of the University of Exeter, which participated in the search:

"We have identified so many sites because we used different types of remote sensing. Airborne laser scanning gave good results for some sites in more remote places because it showed earthworks really well. Aerial photography worked better in lowland areas for the detection of crop marks."


Qasim's full name is Muhammad ibn Qasim al-Thaqafi. In Arabic, the name Qasim means "One Who Distributes". One of his famous titles Al-Laqab means "Title". One on his other titles Imad ad-Din means "Pillar of the Faith".

Qasim was born in c. 694 . [3] His birthplace was almost certainly in the Hejaz (western Arabia), either in Taif, the traditional home of his Thaqif tribe, or in Mecca or Medina. [4] Following their general embrace of Islam in c. 630 , members of the Thaqif gradually attained high military and administrative ranks in the nascent Caliphate and played the important command and economic roles during and after the early Muslim conquests, particularly in Iraq. [5] The tribe produced effective commanders associated with early Arab military operations against the Indian subcontinent: in c. 636 the Thaqafite governor of Bahrayn (eastern Arabia), Uthman ibn Abi al-As, dispatched naval expeditions against the Indian ports of Debal, Thane and Bharuch. [6] The tribe's power continued to increase with the advent of the Umayyad Caliphate in 661. [6] Qasim belonged to the Abu Aqil family of the Banu Awf, one of the two principal branches of the Thaqif. [6] The Abu Aqil family gained prestige with the rise of al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, the paternal first cousin of Qasim's father Muhammad ibn al-Hakam. [6] Al-Hajjaj was made a commander by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik ( r . 685–705 ) during the Second Muslim Civil War and killed the Umayyads' chief rival for the caliphate, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, in 692, and two years later was appointed the viceroy of Iraq and the eastern Caliphate. [7] [4] Following his promotion, al-Hajjaj became a patron of the Thaqif and appointed several members to important posts in Iraq and its dependencies. [8] Qasim's father was appointed the deputy governor of Basra, though his career was otherwise undistinguished. [9] According to a letter between Qasim and al-Hajjaj cited by the Chach Nama, Qasim's mother was a certain Habibat al-Uzma (Habiba the Great). [9] The Chach Nama also indicates Qasim had a similar-aged brother named Sulb and Arabic sources indicate he had a much younger brother named al-Hajjaj, who served as an Umayyad commander during the Alid revolt of 740. [9]

No information is provided by the Arabic sources about Qasim's childhood and adolescence. [4] The modern historian Nabi Bakhsh Baloch holds that Qasim most likely grew up partly in Ta'if and then Basra and Wasit, the provincial capital of Iraq founded by al-Hajjaj in 702. [9] Qasim's time in Basra, a military and intellectual center of the Islamic world at the time, may have widened Qasim's career horizons, while at Wasit he was likely educated and trained under al-Hajjaj's patronage. [10] Al-Hajjaj was highly fond of Qasim, [10] and considered him prestigious enough to marry his sister Zaynab, [11] though she preferred the older Thaqafite al-Hakam ibn Ayyub ibn al-Hakam, to whom she was ultimately wed. [12] [13] The Kitab al-aghani refers to Qasim at the age of 17 as "the noblest Thaqafite of his time". [14] In the summation of Baloch, "Qasm grew up under favorable conditions into an able, energetic and cultured lad of fine tastes". [15]

Qasim's first assignment was in the province Fars in modern Iran, where he was asked to subjugate a group of Kurds. After the successful completion of the mission, he was appointed as the governor of Fars. [16] He likely succeeded his uncle Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi, a brother of al-Hajjaj, who was previously a governor. The city of Shiraz is said to have been revived by Qasim. He built a royal villa in the city and a military camp at a short distance from it. [17] [18] [19] He was also given the task of subjugating the area to the south of Shiraz, and the distant area of Jurjan near the Caspian Sea. [16]

Fars might have also had at this time some of the rebels leftover from the revolt of Ibn al-Ash'ath, which almost brought down the rule of al-Hajjaj. An aged supporter of rebels and a Shia notable of the time, a disciple of the companion of Prophet Jabir ibn Abd Allah al-Ansari and a famous narrator of Hadith, [20] Atiyya ibn Sa'd Awfi was arrested by Muhammad bin Qasim on the orders of Al-Hajjaj and demanded that he curse Ali on the threat of punishment. Atiyya refused to curse Ali and was punished. While Maclean doesn't give the details of the punishment, early historians like Ibn Hajar Al-asqalani and Tabari record that he was flogged by 400 lashes and his head and beard shaved for humiliation and that he fled to Khurasan and returned to Iraq after the ruler had been changed. [21] [22]

Early Muslim presence in Sindh Edit

The connection between the Hindu Sind and Islam was established by the initial Muslim missions during the Rashidun Caliphate. Al-Hakim ibn Jabalah al-Abdi, who attacked Makran in the year 649 AD, was an early partisan of Ali ibn Abu Talib. [23] During the caliphate of Ali, many Jats of Sindh had came under influence of Islam [24] and some even participated in the Battle of Camel and died fighting for Ali. [23] Harith ibn Murrah Al-abdi and Sayfi ibn Fasayl' al-Shaybani, both officers of Ali's army, attacked Makran in the year 658. [23] Sayfi was one of the seven shias who were beheaded alongside Hujr ibn Adi al-Kindi in 660 AD near Damascus. [23] Under the Umayyads (661 - 750 AD), many Shias sought asylum in the region of Sindh, to live in relative peace in the remote area. Ziyad Hindi is one of those refugees. [25]

Umayyad interest in Sindh Edit

According to Wink, Umayyad interest in the region was galvanized by the operation of the Meds (a tribe of Scythians living in Sindh) and others. [26] The Meds had engaged in piracy on Sassanid shipping in the past, from the mouth of the Tigris to the Sri Lankan coast, in their bawarij and now were able to prey on Arab shipping from their bases at Kutch, Debal and Kathiawar. [26] At the time, Sindh was the wild frontier region of al-Hind, inhabited mostly by semi-nomadic tribes whose activities disturbed much of the Western Indian Ocean. [26] Muslim sources insist that it was these persistent activities along increasingly important Indian trade routes by Debal pirates and others which forced the Arabs to subjugate the area, in order to control the seaports and maritime routes of which Sindh was the nucleus, as well as, the overland passage. [27] During Hajjaj's governorship, the Meds of Debal in one of their raids had kidnapped Muslim women travelling from Sri Lanka to Arabia, thus providing grounds to the rising power of the Umayyad Caliphate that enabled them to gain a foothold in the Makran, Balochistan and Sindh regions. [26] [28] [29]

Also cited as a reason for this campaign was the policy of providing refuge to Sassanids fleeing the Arab advance and to Arab rebels from the Umayyad consolidation of their rule. [ clarification needed ]

These Arabs were imprisoned later on by Governor Deebal Partaab Raye. A letter written by an Arab girl named Nahed who escaped from the prison of Partab Raye asked Hajjaj Bin Yusuf for help. When Hajjaj asked Dahir for the release of prisoners and compensation, the latter refused on the ground that he had no control over those. Al-Hajjaj sent Muhammad Bin Qasim for action against the Sindh in 711. [ citation needed ]

The mawali new non-Arab converts who were usually allied with Al-Hajjaj's political opponents and thus were frequently forced to participate in battles on the frontier of the Umayyad Caliphate — such as Kabul, Sindh and Transoxania. [30] An actual push into the region had been out of favor as an Arab policy since the time of the Rashidun Caliph Umar bin Khattab, who upon receipt of reports of it being an inhospitable and poor land, had stopped further expeditionary ventures into the region. [ citation needed ]

Hajjaj had put more care and planning into this campaign than the second campaign. [30] Al-Hajjaj gave Qasim command of the expedition between 708 and 711, when Qasim was only 15–17 years old, apparently because two previous Umayyad commanders had not been successful in punishing Sindh's ruler Raja Dahir for his failure to prevent pirates from disrupting Muslim shipping off the coast of Sindh. [11] Al-Hajjaj superintended this campaign from Kufa by maintaining close contact with Qasim in the form of regular reports for which purpose special messengers were deputed between Basra and Sindh. [30] The army which departed from Shiraz under Qasim consisted of 6,000 Syrian cavalry and detachments of mawali (sing. mawla non-Arab, Muslim freedmen) from Iraq. [30] At the borders of Sindh he was joined by an advance guard and six thousand camel cavalry and later, reinforcements from the governor of Makran were transferred directly to Debal (Daybul), at the mouth of the Indus, by sea along with five manjaniks (catapults). [30] The army that eventually captured Sindh would later be swelled by the Jats and Meds as well as other irregulars who heard of the Arab successes in Sindh. [30] When Qasim passed through the Makran desert while raising his forces, he had to subdue the restive towns of Fannazbur and Arman Belah (Lasbela), both of which had previously been conquered by the Arabs. [31]

The first town assaulted in Qasim's Sindh campaign was Debal and upon the orders of al-Hajjaj, he exacted retribution on Debal by giving no quarter to its residents or priests and destroying its great temple. [30] [11] From Debal, the Arab army then marched northeast taking towns such as Nerun and Sadusan (Sehwan) without fighting. [30] One-fifth of the war booty including slaves were remitted to al-Hajjaj and the Caliph. [30] The conquest of these towns was accomplished with relative ease however, Dahir's armies being prepared on the other side of the Indus [a] had not yet been confronted. [30] In preparation to meet them, Muhammad returned to Nerun to resupply and receive reinforcements sent by al-Hajjaj. [30] Camped on the east bank of the Indus, Qasim sent emissaries and bargained with the river Jats and boatmen. [30] Upon securing the aid of Mokah Basayah, "the King of the island of Bet", Muhammad crossed over the river where he was joined by the forces of the Thakore of Bhatta and the western Jats. [30]

At Ar-rur (Rohri) Qasim was met by Dahir's forces and the eastern Jats in battle. [30] Dahir died in the battle, his forces were defeated and Qasim took control of Sindh. [30] In the wake of the battle enemy soldiers were executed —though artisans, merchants, and farmers were spared —and Dahir [ clarification needed ] and his chiefs, the "daughters of princes" and the usual fifth of the booty and slaves were sent to al-Hajjaj. [30] Soon the capitals of the other provinces, Brahmanabad, Alor (Battle of Aror) and Multan, were captured alongside other in-between towns with only light Muslim casualties. [30] Multan was a key site in the Hindu religion. [11] Usually after a siege of a few weeks or months the Arabs gained a city through the intervention of heads of mercantile houses with whom subsequent treaties and agreements would be settled. [30] After battles all fighting men were executed and their wives and children enslaved in considerable numbers and the usual fifth of the booty and slaves were sent to al-Hajjaj. [30] The general populace was encouraged to carry on with their trades and taxes and tributes settled. [30]

The conquest of Sindh, in modern-day Pakistan, although costly, was a major gain for the Umayyad Caliphate. However, further gains were halted by Hindu kingdoms during Arab campaigns. The Arabs attempted to invade India but they were defeated by Rawal Kalbhoja of Mewar, north Indian Rajput king Nagabhata of the Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty and by the Indian Emperor Vikramaditya II of the Chalukya dynasty (present day Solanki Rajputs who later migrated north to Gujarat and some parts of Rajasthan) in the early 8th century. After the failure of further expeditions on Kathiawar, the Arab chroniclers conceded that the Abbasid caliph al-Mahdi ( r . 775–785 ) "gave up the project of conquering any part of India." [32]

Military and political strategy Edit

The military strategy had been outlined by Al-Hajjaj in a letter sent to Muhammad ibn Qasim: [33]

My ruling is given: Kill anyone belonging to the ahl-i-harb (combatants) arrest their sons and daughters for hostages and imprison them. Whoever does not fight against us. grant them aman (peace and safety) and settle their tribute [amwal] as dhimmah (protected person).

The Arabs' first concern was to facilitate the conquest of Sindh with the fewest casualties while also trying to preserve the economic infrastructure. [34] Towns were given two options: submit to Islamic authority peacefully or be attacked by force (anwattan), with the choice governing their treatment upon capture. [34] The capture of towns was usually accomplished by means of a treaty with a party from among the enemy, who were then extended special privileges and material rewards. [35] There were two types of such treaties, "Sulh" or "ahd-e-wasiq (capitulation)" and "aman (surrender/ peace)". [35] Among towns and fortresses that were captured through force of arms, Muhammad bin Qasim performed executions of ahl-i-harb (fighting men) as part of his military strategy, whose surviving dependents were enslaved. [35]

Where resistance was strong, prolonged, and intensive, often resulting in considerable Arab casualties, Muhammad bin Qasim's response was dramatic, inflicting 6,000 deaths at Rawar, between 6,000 and 26,000 at Brahmanabad, 4,000 at Iskalandah, and 6,000 at Multan. [36] Conversely, in areas taken by sulh, such as Armabil, Nirun, and Aror, resistance was light and few casualties occurred. [36] Sulh appeared to be Muhammad bin Qasim's preferred mode of conquest, the method used for more than 60% of the towns and tribes recorded by al-Baladhuri and the Chach Nama. [36] At one point, he was actually berated by Al-Hajjaj for being too lenient. [36] Meanwhile, the common folk were often pardoned and encouraged to continue working [35] Al-Hajjaj ordered that this option not be granted to any inhabitant of Debal, yet Qasim still bestowed it upon certain groups and individuals. [36]

After each major phase of his conquest, Muhammad bin Qasim attempted to establish law and order in the newly conquered territory by showing religious tolerance and incorporating the ruling class – the Brahmins and Shramanas – into his administration. [35]

Reasons for success Edit

Muhammad ibn Qasim's success has been partly ascribed to Dahir being an unpopular Hindu king ruling over a Buddhist majority who saw Chach of Alor and his kin as usurpers of the Rai Dynasty. [28] This is attributed to having resulted in support being provided by Buddhists and inclusion of rebel soldiers serving as valuable infantry in his cavalry-heavy force from the Jat and Meds. [37] Brahman, Buddhist, Greek, and Arab testimony however can be found that attests towards amicable relations between the adherents of the two religions up to the 7th century. [38]

  1. Superior military equipment such as siege engines and the Mongol bow. [28][39]
  2. Troop discipline and leadership. [28]
  3. The concept of Jihad as a morale booster. [28]
  4. Religion the widespread belief in the prophecy of Muslim success. [28][38]
  5. The Samanis being persuaded to submit and not take up arms because the majority of the population was Buddhist who were dissatisfied with their rulers, who were Hindu. [38]
  6. The laboring under disabilities of the Lohana Jats. [38]
  7. Defections from among Dahirs chiefs and nobles. [38]

After the conquest, Muhammad bin Qasim's task was to set up an administrative structure for a stable Muslim state that incorporated a newly conquered alien land, inhabited by non-Muslims. [40] He adopted a conciliatory policy, asking for acceptance of Muslim rule by the natives in return for non-interference in their religious practice, [40] so long as the natives paid their taxes and tribute. [28] In return, the state provided protection to non-Muslim from any foreign attacks and enemies. He established Islamic Sharia law over the people of the region however, Hindus were allowed to rule their villages and settle their disputes according to their own laws, [28] and traditional hierarchical institutions, including the village headmen (rais) and chieftains (dihqans) were maintained. [40] A Muslim officer called an amil was stationed with a troop of cavalry to manage each town on a hereditary basis [40]

Everywhere taxes (mal) and tribute (kharaj) were settled and hostages taken — occasionally this also meant the custodians of temples. [35] Non-Muslim natives were excused from military service and from payment of the religiously mandated tax system levied upon Muslims called Zakat, [40] the tax system levied upon them instead was the jizya - a progressive tax, being heavier on the upper classes and light for the poor. [40] In addition, three percent of government revenue was allocated to the Brahmins. [28]

Incorporation of ruling elite into administration Edit

During his administration, Hindus and Buddhists were inducted into the administration as trusted advisors and governors. [28] A Hindu, Kaksa, was at one point the second most important member of his administration. [41] Dahir's prime minister and various chieftains were also incorporated into the administration. [42]

Jat clashes with Muhammad bin Qasim Edit

Significant medieval Muslim chronicles such as the Chach Nama, Zainul-Akhbar and Tarikh-I-Baihaqi have recorded battles between Jats and forces of Muhammad ibn Qasim . [43]

Religion Edit

Lane-Poole writes that, "as a rule Muslim government was at once tolerant and economic". [44] The preference of collection of jizya over the conversion to Islam is a major economic motivator. [45] [46] Hindus and Buddhists who were classified as Dhimmis had to pay mandatory Jizya instead of Zakat payed by Muslims. [47] [48] Contrastingly preferential treatment was given to a small number of people who were converted to Islam by "exempting them from Jizya in lieu of paying the Zakat". [40] Qasim fixed Zakat at 10% of the agricultural produce. [49] have to pay the mandatory jizya. [50] [51] [52] In Al-Biruni's narrative, according to Manan Ahmed Asif – a historian of Islam in South and Southeast Asia, "Qasim first asserts the superiority of Islam over the polytheists by committing a taboo (killing a cow) and publicly soiling the idol (giving the cow meat as an offering)" before allowing the temple to continue as a place of worship. [53]

A religious Islamic office, "sadru-I-Islam al affal", was created to oversee the secular governors. [40] The native hereditary elites were reappointed with the title of Rana. According to Yohanan Friedmann, Qasim declared that the Brahmins of Brahmanabad were good people. [49]

While proselytization occurred, given the social dynamics of areas of Sindh conquered by Muslim, the spread of Islam was slow and took centuries. [40] No mass conversions to Islam took place and some temples escaped destruction such as the Sun Temple of Multan on payment of jizya. [54] In the Arab settlers controlled areas of Sindh and Multan, conversion to Islam occurred only slowly, not on a massive scale. [55] Majority of the population continued to remain Hindu who had to pay the jizya imposed by the Muslim state. [55]

Expansions when al-Hajjaj died in 714, followed a year later by Caliph al-Walid I, who was succeeded by his brother Sulayman. The latter took revenge against the generals and officials who had been close to al-Hajjaj. Sulayman owed political support to al-Hajjaj's opponents and so recalled both of al-Hajjaj's successful generals Qutayba ibn Muslim, the conqueror of Transoxiana (Central Asia) and Muhammad. He also appointed the son of the distinguished general al-Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra, Yazid, who was once imprisoned and tortured by al-Hajjaj, as the governor of Fars, Kirman, Makran, and Sindh he immediately placed Muhammad in chains. [56]

Muhammad ibn Qasim died on 18 July 715 in Mosul which is a part of the modern-day Iraq. Some sources say that his body was transferred to Makran in Balochistan at the Hingol National Park which is part of modern-day Pakistan.

There are two different accounts regarding the details of Qasim's fate:

  • According to al-Baladhuri Muhammad was killed due to a family feud with the governor of Iraq. Sulayman was hostile toward Muhammad because apparently, he had followed the order of Hajjaj to declare Sulayman's right of succession void in all territories conquered by him. When Muhammad received the news of the death of al-Hajjaj he returned to Aror. Muhammad was later arrested under the orders of the Caliph by the replacement governor of Sindh, Yazid ibn Abi Kabsha al-Saksaki, who worked under the new military governor of Iraq, Yazid ibn al-Muhallab, and the new fiscal governor, the mawlaSalih ibn Abd al-Rahman. Salih, whose brother was executed by al-Hajjaj, tortured Muhammad and his relatives to death. The account of his death by al-Baladhuri is brief compared to the one in the Chach Nama. [28][57][58]
  • The Chach Nama narrates a tale in which Muhammad's demise is attributed to the daughters of Dahir who had been taken captive during the campaign. Upon capture they had been sent on as presents to the Caliph for his harem in the capital Baghdad (however Baghdad had not yet been built and the actual capital was Damascus). The account relates that they then tricked the Caliph into believing that Muhammad had violated them before sending them on and as a result of this subterfuge, Muhammad was wrapped and stitched in oxen hides, [59] and sent to Syria, which resulted in his death en route from suffocation. [1] This narrative attributes their motive for this subterfuge to securing vengeance for their father's death. Upon discovering this subterfuge, the Caliph is recorded to have been filled with remorse and ordered the sisters buried alive in a wall. [38][57][60]

After bin Qasim's departure, the next appointed Arab governor died on arrival. Dahir's son recaptured Brahmanabad and c. 720, he was granted pardon and included in the administration in return for converting to Islam. Soon, however, he recanted and split off when the Umayyads were embroiled in a succession crisis. Later, Junayd ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Murri killed Jaisiah and recaptured the territory before his successors once again struggled to hold and keep it. During the Abassid period, c. 870, the local emirs shook off all allegiance to the caliphs and by the 10th century the region was split into two weak states, Mansurah on the lower Indus and Multan on the upper Indus, which were soon captured by Ismailis who set up an independent Fatimid state. [28] [61] These successor states did not achieve much and shrank in size. The Arab conquest remained checked in what is now the south of Pakistan for three centuries by powerful Hindu monarchs to the north and east until the arrival of Mahmud of Ghazni. [62]

There is controversy regarding the conquest and subsequent conversion of Sindh. This is usually voiced in two antagonistic perspectives viewing Qasim's actions: [63]

His conquest, as described by Stanley Lane-Poole, in Medieval India (Published in 1970 by Haskell House Publishers Ltd), was "liberal". He imposed the customary poll tax, took hostages for good conduct and spared peoples' lives and lands. He even left their shrines undesecrated: 'The temples' he proclaimed, 'shall be inviolate, like the churches of the Christians, the synagogues of the Jews and altars of the Magians'. [64] In the same text, however, it is mentioned that "Occasional desecration of Hindu fanes took place. but such demonstrations were probably rare sops to the official conscience. ", as destruction of temples and civilian massacres still took place. [65]

  1. Coercive conversion has been attributed to early historians such as Elliot, Cousens, Majumdar and Vaidya. [36] They hold the view that the conversion of Sindh was necessitated. Qasim's numerical inferiority is said to explain any instances of apparent religious toleration, with the destruction of temples seen as a reflection of the more basic, religiously motivated intolerance. [36]
  2. Voluntary conversion has been attributed to Thomas W. Arnold and modern Muslim historians such as Habib and Qureishi. They believe that the conquest was largely peaceful, and the conversion entirely so, and that the Arab forces enacted liberal, generous and tolerant policies. [36] These historians mention the "praiseworthy conduct of Arab Muslims" and attribute their actions to a "superior civilizational complex". [66]

Various polemical perceptions of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are also reflected in this debate. [67] The period of Qasim's rule has been called by U.T. Thakkur "the darkest period in Sindh history", with the records speaking of massive forced conversions, temple destruction, slaughters and genocides the people of Sindh, described as inherently pacifist due to their Hindu/Buddhist religious inclinations, had to adjust to the conditions of "barbarian inroad". [68] On one extreme, the Arab Muslims are seen as being compelled by religious stricture to conquer and forcibly convert Sindh, but on the other hand, they can be seen as being respectful and tolerant of non-Muslims as part of their religious duty, with conversion being facilitated by the vitality, equality and morals of the Islamic religion. [67] Citations of towns taken either violently or bloodlessly, reading back into Arab Sindh information belonging to a later date and dubious accounts such as those of the forcible circumcision of Brahmins at Debal or Qasims consideration of Hindu sentiment in forbidding the slaughter of cows are used as examples for one particular view or the other. [67]

Some historians strike a middle ground, saying that Qasim was torn between the political expediency of making peace with the Hindus and Buddhists having to call upon non-Muslims to serve under him as part of his mandate to administer newly conquered land and orthodoxy by refraining from seeking the co-operation of "infidels". It is contended that Qasim may have struck a middle ground, conferring the status of Dhimmi upon the native Sindhis and permitting them to participate in his administration, but treating them as "noncitizens" (i.e. in the Caliphate, but not of it). [40]

While Muhammad's warring was clearly at times brutal, he is supposed to have said of Hinduism that 'the idol temple is similar to the churches of the Christians, (to the synagogues) of the Jews and to the fire temples of the Zoroastrians' (mā al-budd illā ka-kanāʾis al-naṣārā wa ’l-yahūd wa-buyūt nīrān al-madjūs). [69] This 'seems to be the earliest statement justifying the inclusion of the Hindus in the category of ahl al-dhimma, leading Muhammad to be viewed by many modern Muslims as a paragon of religious tolerance. [70]

Qasim's presence and the rule was very brief. His conquest for the Umayyads brought Sindh into the orbit of the Muslim world. [71] After the conquest of Sindh, Qasim adopted the Hanafi school of Sharia law which regarded Hindus, Buddhists and Jains as "dhimmis" and "People of the Book", allowing them religious freedom as long as they continued to pay the tax known as "jizya". This approach would prove critical to the way Muslim rulers ruled in India over the next centuries. [28] Coastal trade and a Muslim colony in Sindh allowed for cultural exchanges and the arrival of Sufi missionaries to expand Muslim influence. [72] From Debal, which remained an important port until the 12th century, commercial links with the Persian Gulf and the Middle East intensified as Sindh became the "hinge of the Indian Ocean Trade and overland passway." [71] Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, claimed that the Pakistan movement started when the first Muslim put his foot on the soil of Sindh, the Gateway of Islam in India. [73] He is often referred to as the first Pakistani according to Pakistan Studies curriculum. [74] Yom-e Bab ul-Islam is observed in Pakistan, in honor of Muhammad bin Qasim. [75] [74] Port Qasim which is Pakistan's second major port is named in honor of Muhammad ibn Qasim. [76] Bagh Ibn Qasim is the largest park in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan named in honor of Muhammad bin Qasim. Ibn-e-Qasim Bagh Stadium, Multan is a multi-use stadium named after Muhammad bin Qasim. The Pakistan Naval Station Qasim, or PNS Qasim, is the major naval special operations base for the Amphibious Special Operations Forces in the Pakistan Navy named after Muhammad bin Qasim. Bin Qasim Town in Karachi is named after Muhammad bin Qasim. Muhammad bin Qasim Road/avenue in Karachi is named after Muhammad bin Qasim. Mohammad Bin Qasim Library in Sujawal, Thatta is named after Muhammad bin Qasim. Qasim Company in Pakistan Army is named after Muhammad bin Qasim. Muhammad ibn Qasim Mosque in Sukkur is also dedicated to the leader. In Pakistan, Qasim is referred as the "First Pakistani".

Archaeology news: New Roman army sites aerial scans show empire’s bloodiest battles

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Roman Tunisia settlement archaeology is 'enigma' says expert

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Archaeologists have shed new light on the Roman army killing machine, thanks to cutting-edge surveillance technology. Remote-sensing was used to pin-point dozens of new Roman Army sites on the border between modern-day Spain and Portugal.


And in doing so, they have shed new light on one of the once-mighty empire&rsquos most infamous battles.

Airborne laser scanning gave good results for some sites in more remote places because it showed earthworks really well

Dr João Fonte

New analysis of 66 camps reveals the Roman army boasted a far more significant presence in the region than ever expected, during the epic 200-year-long battle to conquer the Iberian Peninsula.

From this novel bird&rsquos-eye view, camps of different sizes suddenly become distinct.

These were likely used for both training and sheltering from the elements, allowing experts to more about the Roman army in the process.

Archaeology news: New Roman army sites aerial scans have revealed the empire&rsquos bloodiest battles (Image:

Archaeology news: Cutting-edge remote-sensing tech was used to pin-point dozens of new Roman Army sites (Image:


Archaeologists could then map how soldiers attacked the indigenous groups using there famous well-drilled techniques.

By doing this, they were able to better understand the fingerprint of the Roman military's presence in the northern fringe of the River Duero basin.

Experts analysed drone images and LiDAR data to help create detailed 3D models of the terrain.

This included resources from the Spanish National Geographic Institute, Google Earth and Bing Maps.

Archaeology news: The latest in aerial surveillance technology has shed new light on the Roman army (Image:

It was only with the use of such technology they could highlight locations that allowed fieldwork to then commence.

These temporary occupations usually left fragile and only the most subtle traces on the surface.

For example, ditches or the networks of ramparts protecting fortifications have been filled-in or flattened.

Combining different remote sensing images and fieldwork revealed the perimeter shapes of the temporary Roman military camps, usually resembling a rectangle.

Related articles


The conflict between Romans and locals raged in the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains, towards the end of the 1st century BC.

This indicates soldiers crossed between lowlands and uplands, using ridges in the mountains for cover and better protection.

The sheer number of army camps in the area indicates the immense logistical support required to assist soldiers with conquering the area.

Sites were used to assist accessing far-off locations and to help soldiers stay in situ throughout the winter.

Archaeology news: The Roman army boasted a far more significant presence in the region than expected (Image:

Archaeology news: New Roman army sites aerial scans have revealed the empire&rsquos bloodiest battles (Image: Express)

As a result, some of the camps would likely have housed soldiers for months on end.

Dr João Fonte from the University of Exeter said: &ldquoWe have identified so many sites because we used different types of remote sensing.

&ldquoAirborne laser scanning gave good results for some sites in more remote places because it showed earthworks really well.

&ldquoAerial photography worked better in lowland areas for the detection of crop marks.

Related articles

&ldquoThe remains are of the temporary camps that the Roman army set up when moving through hostile territory or when carrying out manoeuvres around their permanent bases.

&ldquoThey reveal the intense Roman activity at the entrance to the Cantabrian Mountains during the last phase of the Roman conquest of Hispania.&rdquo

The occupation's aim was to expand the Roman empire and exploit precious natural resources such as tin and gold.


Endangered circum-Mediterranean firs are highly vulnerable to climate change effects in the isolated areas where they remain (Sánchez-Salguero et al., 2017). Abies nebrodensis Mattei is currently the rarest conifer in the European flora, with only 34 mature trees able to reproduce sexually in the wild (Pasta et al., 2019). The recovery of this species and the protection of the other ones to avoid a similar decrease is an urgent matter that demands the best techniques available to support the traditional field survey.

We propose a methodology that combines the use of LIDAR with ForeStereo, UCO40 fuel models, and FlamMap simulations to significantly reduce the effort and time required for fieldwork, increasing the efficiency of the massive data capture required in forest management.

The application of this methodology in the study area obtained fire simulations that showed that east wind conditions (“Levant”) resulted in worse fire scenarios than west winds (“Ponent”) as illustrated in Fig. 5. Spread rate appears to be more influenced by topography and wind conditions (Salis et al., 2016) than by flame length, which appears to be more influenced by fuel characteristics. Low spread rate and flame length were found in areas with HR7 and R4 models because they correspond to high-density A. pinsapo stands, consistent with the findings of Rodríguez y Silva (1996).

Similar results can be found in the Euro-Mediterranean study of Salis et al. (2016), in which the maximum spread rates simulated in the Attica region (Greece), Budoni (Italy), and Fresnedoso de Ibor and Navalmoral (Spain) are between 50 and 110 m∙min −1 . In their study, the worst flame length scenarios are located in Fresnedoso de Ibor (Spain) and Penteli (Greece) with a range between 25 and 50 m. They also found a higher spread rate and low flame length mainly in areas with herbaceous vegetation, but also in forest and shrublands in steep mountains exposed to wind (as in our study). In these areas flame length is also higher than in lands with herbaceous vegetation.

However, both wind conditions generate two remarkable foci of fire risk, well highlighted in the burn probability map (Fig. 5). One is in the north-west part of the valley, on south-facing slopes (180° N) where very dense and tall (>1.80 m) patches of the shrub Juniperus spp. on steep terrain represent ideal conditions for a high fire spread rate (>50 m∙min −1 ), whereas the flame length will depend more on the wind (Ponent >15 m, Levant >30 m). It is not surprising that this condition corresponds to the M9 fuel model (Table 1), in which massive shrub formations dominate the fire behavior. The other focus is in the eastern part of the valley, due to the occurrence of fuel models for which fire behavior is mainly determined by the combination of dense shrub cover and very steep slopes (>75°).

González-Olabarria et al. (2012) observed a lower fire risk landscape in a carefully managed even-aged forest of Pinus nigra. and P. pinaster, whereas our study corresponds to a non-managed forest of pinsapo firs. This contrast strengthens the argument for the urgent need for adaptive management of these endemic fir forests, abandoning the traditional paradigm of non-management in biological conservation. The kind of prevailing fuel model appears to be determinant for the fire scenarios obtained, and the current “don’t touch” management strategy, together with the invasion by shrubs into forest mortality gaps, seem to promote high fire risk fuel models in the area.

The distribution of canopy structure features depicted in Fig. 6 highlights: (i) that the most frequent stand height barely reaches 5 m, the mean value is just 9.1 m and figures higher than 12–15 m are rare despite the fact that A. pinsapo can reach up to 30–35 m in height (López-Quintanilla et al., 2013) (ii) that canopy cover has an average value of 64.5%, well below the full-cover criterion under a “set aside” and “no management” strategy since the late 1960s, and patches with 90–100% cover account for less than 10% of the whole area and (iii) that there is an overall very high variability for both stand height and canopy cover values across the landscape, with a relatively high evenness in both variable distributions, especially regarding tree height. All these results indicate a lack of old-growth stands in the study area, and the predominance of secondary forests, which is consistent with previous studies based on field surveys (Linares, Carreira & Ochoa, 2011 Linares et al., 2013).

We found considerably high values of canopy density (CBD: Fig. 4), which can increase the risk of severe crown fires (Arellano Pérez et al., 2017). These canopy density values in a well below full-cover area, together with low Ho suggests two possible explanations: (i) the high CBD values correspond to full-cover patches with older stands where gaps are still not open and/or (ii) shrub strata are increasing their height above 4 m, interlocking with the canopy. Both are compatible with different phases of forest decline and the gap opening process.

The low stand height values we found, even in the patches with older stands and high cover values, could indicate symptoms of stand stagnation in such patches. A multi-temporal comparison (1957–2007) and fractal analysis of digital panchromatic aerial photographs of the same area (Linares et al., 2006 Linares, Camarero & Carreira, 2009), revealed a process of simultaneous stand densification and expansion of A. pinsapo at the landscape level in the last decades. This is a consequence of strict protection since the 1960s of an area mostly covered at the time by bare soils and open scrublands, with a few sparsely distributed and small stands and isolated trees of A. pinsapo. Increasing competition due to the densification of these regenerating even-aged stands led to stand stagnation in the 1980s, which acted as a predisposing factor for the climate change-induced forest decline symptoms reported since 1994–1995, associated with a series of very intense drought spells that acted as an inciting factor (Linares & Carreira, 2009). Finally, tree growth decline and loss of vigor led to the expansion of the root-rot fungus pathogen Heterobasidion abietinum (Linares et al., 2010), which acted as a contributing factor (Manion, 1981) causing widespread mortality and extensive formation of forest-gaps in the last two decades (>1/3 of the previous basal area lost). This multifactorial forest decline and dieback process increases the production of HR7 and R4 fuel models, as shown in Fig. 7. Under the prevalent “no-management” policy, these new open areas are, eventually, being invaded by dense shrubs, as supported by our LIDAR and ForeStereo data. This increases their importance in the fire behavior and promotes fuel models with high fire spread rate such as the UCO M9 fuel type. The fuel model classification revealed a remarkable contribution of M9 (Fig. 4), covering 30.5% of the study area. This suggests that shrub invasion is taking place and is already in an advanced phase. Also, the CBD values point to a high exposure to crown fires (Arellano Pérez et al., 2017) and could explain the forecasted high flame length in some areas.

As explained in the Introduction section, fire intensity in pinsapo forests is known to be low, but the above-mentioned current invasion into the mortality gaps by the surrounding dense shrubs could invert this tendency. However, it must be highlighted that the efficacy of employing fire simulations in risk management strongly depends on input data of high accuracy and precision, due to the complex heterogeneity of forest landscapes (Rodríguez y Silva & Molina-Martínez, 2012). Although we precisely determined shrub composition and structure in a set of training field plots, the low LIDAR point cloud density available hindered reliable mapping of understory vegetation, which thus may restrict the accuracy of the obtained fire risk simulations. The combined use of LIDAR, both terrestrial and airborne, could be the best option to map fuel models and canopy data such as Canopy Base Height and Canopy Bulk Density, for increased accuracy. Nevertheless, ForeStereo was shown to be a useful alternative to terrestrial LIDAR for calculating stand structure. Our study attempts to set a precedent as the first approach to fire risk analysis in Abies pinsapo forests using LIDAR. Also, it demonstrates the significant potential of this method for study of the ecological structure of populations of endangered fir species, and to broaden the understanding of their conservation status. Most of the current work with LIDAR data focuses on forests with commercial interest, and few studies have employed this technology to understand the structure of the populations of endangered species forests and their vulnerability to fire risk.

Remote Sensing Technology Uncovers 66 “Hidden” Roman Bases In Spain - History

(ENG) The landscape is a product of each particular society’s ways of being, thinking and acting. more (ENG) The landscape is a product of each particular society’s ways of being, thinking and acting. The landscape we see in Galicia today is the result of our ways of being, thinking and acting, but also those of the people who lived here in the past. Many of the things that we consider to be the most typical elements of the Galician landscape are a product or effect of human action, and not only of what we refer to as “nature”. This book is a kind of archaeological “atlas” of the cultural landscapes of Galicia, and here we say ‘a kind’ because it is not an atlas in the conventional sense, containing a series of maps: instead, what this book does is to describe the different types of landscape that appeared over much of the history of what is now Galicia, from late prehistory (beginning of the Neolithic) to mediaeval times. The story begins with what we know as the traditional landscape. It identifies its typical elements that are present or missing from the landscapes that preceded it, and which helped to create it. And so, archaeological landscapes are something that does not exist their remains are either largely incorporated in subsequent forms of the landscape, or lie lost and forgotten (“invisible”) beneath them. It is precisely for this reason that we refer to them as “archaeological landscapes”. The narrative we present here is a human story from the Anthropocene period, a concept that defines a new geological stage marked by human influence of the Earth’s different systems, a stage in which sociocultural action has actively altered the world, replacing a natural environment with an increasingly artificial cultural environment. THIS PDF DOCUMENT IS A SELECTION OF SOME PAGES OF THE TEXT TO GIVE AN OVERALL IMPRESSION OF THE BOOK CONTENTS.

(SP): El paisaje es un producto de las formas de ser, de estar, de pensar y de actuar propias de cada sociedad. El paisaje gallego actual es el resultado de nuestras formas de ser, estar, pensar y actuar. Pero también lo es de las de todas aquellas personas que nos precedieron en el tiempo. Muchas cosas que consideramos características del paisaje de Galicia son el producto o el efecto de la acción humana, no sólo de eso que llamamos “naturaleza”. Este libro es una especie de “atlas” arqueológico de los paisajes culturales de Galicia. Y decimos “una especie” porque no es un atlas en el sentido convencional de conjunto de mapas. Lo que hace este libro es describir las diferentes formas de paisaje que se sucedieron a lo largo de una parte de la historia de lo que hoy llamamos Galicia, en concreto desde la prehistoria reciente (desde el inicio del periodo que se denomina “neolítico”) hasta la época medieval. El relato parte del paisaje tradicional de Galicia para, a continuación, descubrir los elementos típicos de este paisaje y ver cuáles estaban presentes –o ausentes- en los paisajes que lo precedieron y que contribuyeron a su conformación. Los paisajes arqueológicos son algo que no existe. Sus restos, o bien se incorporaron en gran medida a las formas posteriores de paisaje, o bien subyacen relictos y olvidados (“invisibilizados”) bajo éstas. Por eso precisamente llamamos a esos paisajes “arqueológicos”. La historia que hacemos aquí es una historia humana del antropoceno, un concepto cada vez más utilizado para definir una nueva etapa geológico que está marcada por la dominación humana de los sistemas de la Tierra, una etapa en la que la dinámica socioecultura modifica activamente el mundo y sustituye un medio natural por un medio cultural y cada vez más artificial. ESTE DOCUMENTO PDF ES UNA SEPARATA CON LA SELECCIÓN DE ALGUNAS PÁGINAS DEL LIBRO PARA DAR UNA IMPRESIÓN GENERAL DE SUS CONTENIDOS Y FORMATO.

The Best Movies of 2020, Ranked by Tomatometer

Rotten Tomatoes has collected every movie designated Certified Fresh over the past year, creating our guide to the best movies of 2020.

Movies achieve Certified Fresh status by maintaining a Tomatometer score of at least 75% after a minimum number of reviews, with that number depending on how the movie was released. For wide releases (of which there were significantly fewer this year, as you can imagine), the minimum number of reviews is 80. For streaming or limited release movies, that number is 40. And finally, it’s 20 reviews for movies premiering on television. Across all release types, each movie needs at least five of its reviews to be written by Top Critics. Once a movie goes Certified Fresh, the only way to lose it is by dropping below 70%.

So what were some notable movies approved by critics in the most unpredictable, disrupted year in film history? Early in 2020, we saw the likes of The Invisible Man, Emma., and Birds of Prey connect with critics. At one point, January’s Bad Boys for Life hitting Certified Fresh seemed like that was going to be the craziest story of the year.

As theaters shut down two weeks into Onward‘s release, audiences turned to streaming. Over the next eight months, Certified Fresh originals each gave platforms their moment to entertain. Greyhound and On the Rocks shored up on Apple TV+. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Blow the Man Down and The Vast of Night beamed onto Amazon Prime. Hamilton and Black Is King started the conversation on Disney+. David Byrne’s American Utopia danced onto HBO Max, while Palm Springs got weird on Hulu. Netflix covered all the bases with His House, Jingle Jangle, The Platform, Da 5 Bloods, and Enola Holmes. Even boutique streamer Shudder had the year’s viral hit with quarantine-shot Host.

The new normal continues to refine itself, as seen among 2020’s final Certified Fresh releases: Steve McQueen’s series of Small Axe films on Amazon, and prestige Pixar pic Soul going straight into homes. And because awards seasons must not be denied, buzz of Nomadland, One Night in Miami , and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom continues into 2021.

Satellite Imaging from Space

Nobody from Indiana Jones' day could have imagined satellites high above the Earth helping archaeologists pinpoint the locations of buried ruins. But now, archaeologists regularly look to the visual images compiled by Google Earth to scan for their next big dig, and use radar imagery from NASA or commercial satellites to unearth hidden treasures.

Infrared satellite images have revealed pyramids, streets and palaces that lie buried in Egypt, as well as ancient rivers hidden beneath the Sahara. Such radar imagery has steadily improved over the years until it can now resolve buried features as small as 1.3 feet (0.4 meters), and as deep as 33 feet (10 meters), said Sarah Parcak, an Egyptologist at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Archaeologists may even someday face a time when remote-sensing technology can create detailed images of even the smallest buried objects. That could create a mild professional dilemma.

"What happens when satellite radar images have a resolution of a couple inches, and can go deeper?" Parcak said. "Will we ever have to stop digging? I hope not."


Nile crocodiles occur in the Sahara desert in fragmented populations throughout several mountains. Although the mechanisms explaining the presence of crocodiles in the Sahara are well understood (e.g.[10]), in reality there is paucity of knowledge about distribution, demography, ecology, and conservation status of populations. Research priorities in Chad and Egypt should focus on studies quantifying population size and pressures exerted on habitats in the population present in guelta Archei and Lake Nasser (e.g.[65]). Field surveys are also needed in the Tibesti where the presence of crocodiles is uncertain [56]. The remoteness and isolation character of these mountains might have assured the persistence of crocodiles. Fine-scaled remote sensing techniques might be applied prior to fieldwork in order to identify suitable water localities for the occurrence of crocodiles [66]–[68].

The present study increased in by 35% the number of known crocodile localities in Mauritania. Presence was confirmed in 60 localities and another 11 were identified as of possible presence. The increase in known localities is probably related to previous lack of sampling and cryptic behaviour of crocodiles. The remote character of southern Mauritanian mountains, associated to with logistical fieldwork constraints, has prevented detailed sampling. Also, crocodiles were found spending large portions of time hidden inside caves or burrows [27], [30], [31], further hampering their detection (e.g. Figure 6E). Thus, it is likely that increased sampling will detect more populations. The southern Gorgol el Abiod, Gorgol el Akhdar, Garfa and Karakoro basins should be further surveyed as suitable areas may be present. Sampling should also be aimed to extreme south-eastern Mauritania, where besides lake Dendaré (locality 78), no other localities are known, but water availability (e.g. Mahmoûdé lake) may allow crocodile presence. Assessment of population status along the Senegal river is also needed, where accidental death in fishnets and direct harvesting may have severely reduced populations and restricted crocodiles to local suitable areas, such as the National Parks of Diawling (Mauritania) and Djoudj (Senegal) [28], [35], [69]. While local beliefs of the Moor ethnic group protect mountain-ranging crocodiles [27], [28], [30], the southern Mauritania ethnic groups hunts them for skin, organs and meat, along the Senegal river and major tributaries [28], [36]. The increasing human pressure is also the most likely responsible for the extinction of the Slender-snouted crocodile (Crocodylus cataphractus), which was reported along the Senegal river [36], [70], but currently is considered extinct [28].

Crocodiles were mostly found in gueltas and tâmoûrts, which is probably related to their higher abundance in comparison to other water habitats. Gueltas are apparently crucial for the persistence of crocodiles in mountains, as already emphasised for other vertebrates with isolated populations [15]–[17]. Although population size is unknown, relatively low number of individuals observed in almost all localities (on average less than five individuals were observed at each locality), but particularly at gueltas, suggests that the actual number of crocodiles present is small, which stresses the vulnerability of these habitats to threat factors. After the severe droughts of the 1970s [71], [72], there were large human movements and settlement around water localities [30]. Currently, several gueltas are overexploited by herdsmen, producing water-shortage during the dry season, faecal contamination by domestic animals, and increased activities for excavating pools or pumping water [31]. Furthermore, several small-sized gueltas were strongly disturbed by drinking cattle during daylight (Figure 4D). Although crocodiles tend to be more active at night [73], increased human activities during daylight force individuals in small-sized gueltas to remain hidden, while at night they are able to explore the surroundings of lagoons. Local studies should be conducted to quantify pressures and threat risks affecting crocodile populations.

Oscillations in water availability throughout the year and the relatively small dimensions of gueltas have dramatic consequences in the activity and ecology of populations. During the dry season, individuals are forced to aestivate [73]. In gueltas, they find shelter between the rock boulders of the rocky slopes, as observed in guelta Legleyta (Figure 6E), while in tâmoûrts, they burying themselves below the mud surface or migrate to nearby rock outcrops, as observed in tâmoûrt Bougâri [27], [28], [30]. Apparently, crocodile presence is more frequent in tâmoûrts with available rock outcrops within a 5 km perimeter [28]. Activity is concentrated in the period when water is available and more crocodiles were observed after the rainy season than during the dry season. Apparently, mountain populations of crocodiles have the feeding, growth and reproductive period restricted to just about 10 weeks per year (or even less at some localities). During the rainy season and the following weeks, prey availability may increase dramatically, as observed at Chegg el Mâleh (Figure 6H and S3): in November, there were hundreds of active amphibians (Hoplobatrachus occipitalis), while in December, no amphibians were detected and the tâmoûrt was dry, suggesting that crocodiles should feed only during the active period of amphibians. The relatively short feeding period and available prey of small size, mostly fishes and amphibians, probably affects growth rates and reduces maximum body size [30], [73]. All crocodiles observed were less than 3 m long, and the vast majority were less than 2 m (Figure 6G). The largest crocodiles were observed in guelta Tartêga, which has permanent water and is one of the biggest gueltas of Mauritania (Figure 4A). Although hatchlings or nests were not found, yearling crocodiles were observed at Matmâta and sub-adults were observed in several localities (Figure 6A and 6D), suggesting that reproduction occurs in isolated populations. Demographical, behavioural and thermoregulatory studies should be conducted to understand adaptation traits of these populations to extreme environmental conditions.

Dead crocodiles were found between water points along dry river-beds, suggesting the occurrence of dispersal (Figures 6B and 6F). Movement of crocodiles during the rainy season along temporary water connections have been suggested to occur in mountain populations. A displacement of a crocodile of 2 km over dunes has been reported [30] and potential extinctions in small gueltas, with 1 to 3 individuals, have been suggested that could be compensated by the arrival of animals moving along river beds [31]. Possible population connectivity could occur along the Krâa Naga and upper Karakoro basins, where there are several gueltas and tâmoûrts, respectively, located at relatively short distances (e.g. Ch'Bayer and Rh' Zembou in the former, and Taghtâfet, Jaraaziza, Tâmchekket in the latter). Also, tâmoûrt Djouk is of special relevance given that it may assure connectivity between populations located in the Tagant and Assaba mountains. Thus, it can be hypothesized that Mauritanian crocodiles form a metapopulation, where loss of genetical diversity in lagoons could be attenuated by the occasional migration of individuals with associated gene flow. Furthermore, dispersal from mountain lagoons to the Senegal river may also occur through the Gorgol and Garfa rivers but supporting evidences are needed. Use of molecular markers is necessary to quantify genetic variability, population sub-structuring and effective population size, and detect the occurrence of gene flow.

The present study identified localities completely isolated without any possibility of rescuing-effects [74]. This is the case of source Oumm Icheglâne and guelta Legleyta, which are isolated within the Assaba mountains (Figure S2 and S3). The most dramatic case occurs at guelta El Khedia (locality 29 Figure 3 and 6C), where a single adult is the remaining exemplar from a larger population (reviewed by [18]) and the nearest population is relatively distant (37 km). Isolation by distance apparently prevents dispersal between water localities. For instance, guelta Mendjoura had crocodiles until severe droughts in the 1970s induced local extinction. The closest locality with crocodiles, Boû blei'îne (Figure 5B), is at over 60 km and the connecting oued is totally covered by dunes. Thus, although the guelta currently presents reasonable water levels and prey is available, large distances and unsuitable habitats apparently hamper colonisation. Monitoring of effectively-isolated populations is needed to detect demographical and genetical trends. Introduction of specimens from nearby relatively dense populations should be considered for El Khedia.

The isolation and vulnerability of mountain populations apparently induces behavioural shifts in aggressiveness patterns of crocodiles. Individuals are extremely shy and plunge into water at the first sign of human disturbance. Interestingly, this behaviour was also reported for the extinct Algerian populations [24]. In Mauritania, inquires did not indicate crocodile attacks to humans and, as previously observed by Shine et al. [27], locals swim and wash in gueltas with crocodiles. Even so, when more than one lagoon was available, humans used preferentially the lower ones and crocodiles were more numerous in the upper ones. Although local beliefs protect crocodiles [27], [28], [30], these are apparently killed whenever found far from the gueltas, probably during dispersal events. Local public awareness campaigns focusing on the vulnerability and relict value of crocodile populations should be implemented.

Climate change scenarios for the region predict significant warming and rainfall decrease [75], [76], which are expected to increase population isolation and local extinction (authors, unpub. data). Multi-scale conservation strategies are needed to protect populations and mitigate climate change effects [77]. Classification of Mauritanian mountains as protected areas should be prioritised, as these should contribute to minimise human induced land transformation and habitat loss [78], which are also important threats to local biodiversity.


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