In Roman times, the town of Thamusida (Morocco), located along the Sebou river, was an important centre for the distribution of cereals over the empire.
The purpose of the geoarchaeological investigation conducted in 2002 for the University of Siena was to establish the paleoenvironmental framework, to identify the natural resources, to determine the agricultural land potential and to reconstruct the historical course of the river.
The site is located on the extreme northern edge of the sandy hilly landscape of the Mamora, gradually descending towards the clayey floodplain. Cereal cultivation was considered possible in the plain, and the growth of olives and grapes in the marginal areas of the hills.
The course of the river Sebou in Roman times was reconstructed by following on the aerial photographs the traces of lateral migration of the river bed, and by field survey. On the photographs, two abandoned river meanders were visible downstream of the site, of which the oldest could be assigned to Roman times. Field data showed that, over historical times, just downstream of the town there would have been a discrete erosion of the southern river shore and a corresponding advancement of the northern one, implying a lateral shifting of the Sebou of about 80 meters.
The reconstructed paleoenvironmental framework showed a landscape very similar to the present: a hill forming the northern outpost of the Mamora landscape, slightly raised above the level of the floodplain, and located along the Sebou river, whose course has since then changed in some essential points. Directly north of the site one could easily cross the floodplain, passing by an array of less swampy land, which thus formed a kind of “valley ford”.
The program Bryce was used for a 3D reconstruction of the original site, before the construction of the Roman settlement.
The Roman ruins of Thamusida