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Caesar’s Account Tested With GIS Modeling

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Caesar-GIS-SwitzerlandCRAWLEY, AUSTRALIA—The Science Network of Western Australia reports that Tom Whitley of the University of Western Australia is leading an international team of scientists in developing a Geographic Information Systems model to evaluate Julius Caesar’s account of his war with the Helvetii, a Celtic tribe that occupied much of modern-day Switzerland. Caesar recorded that a quarter of a million Helvetii were settled in the Swiss plateau before they invaded Gaul. The GIS model will test this population estimate, and it will look at wild and agricultural sources of subsistence to test Caesar’s assertion that the Helvitii were running out of food. “Does that in fact reflect what he was saying, that there was a stress on the amount of energy that’s available versus how many people are there to use it? Or does it look like he’s exaggerating his numbers to make it look like he defeated more people than actually he did,” Whitley asked. The project will also look for archaeological traces of the battle, such as Roman riverfront fortifications. “Some of the GIS modeling is intended to say where it is likely that the Romans would have been building these structures,” he added.