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Non-invasive Geophysical Surveys in Search of the Roman Temple of Augustus Under the Cathedral of Tarragona (Catalonia, Spain): A Case Study

  • Autori: Casas, Albert*; Cosentino, Pietro L.; Fiandaca, Gianluca; Himi, Mahjoub; Macias, Josep M.; Martorana, Raffaele; Muñoz, Andreu; Rivero, Lluís; Sala, Roger; Teixell, Imma
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2018
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


An integrated geophysical survey has been conducted at the Tarragona’s Cathedral (Catalonia, NE Spain) with the aim to confirm the potential occurrence of archaeological remains of the Roman Temple dedicated to the Emperor Augustus. Many hypotheses have been proposed about its possible location, the last ones regarding the inner part of the Cathedral, which is one of the most renowned temples of Spain (twelfth century) evolving from Romanesque to Gothic styles. A geophysical project including electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and ground probing radar (GPR) was planned over 1 year considering the administrative and logistic difficulties of such a project inside a cathedral of religious veneration. Finally, both ERT and GPR have been conducted during a week of intensive overnight surveys that provided detailed information on subsurface existing structures. The ERT method has been applied using different techniques and arrays, ranging from standard Wenner–Schlumberger 2D sections to full 3D electrical imaging with the advanced Maximum Yield Grid array. Electrical resistivity data were recorded extensively, making available many thousands of apparent resistivity data to obtain a complete 3D image after a full inversion. In conclusion, some significant buried structures have been revealed providing conclusive information for archaeologists. GPR results provided additional information about shallowest structures. The geophysical results were clear enough to persuade religious authorities and archaeologists to conduct selected excavations in the most promising areas that confirmed the interpretation of geophysical data. In conclusion, the significant buried structures revealed by geophysical methods under the cathedral were confirmed by archaeological digging as the basement of the impressive Roman Temple that headed the Provincial Forum of Tarraco, seat of the Concilium of Hispania Citerior Province.