8. Conclusions

Between 200 and 450 AD, the Faynan was the second largest supplier of copper outside of Cyprus in the Levant. Thus it would have been important to maintain security and efficiency and use imperial will and power to produce a vital metal for the Roman, and later the Byzantine, State. In accordance with this extra-regional goal, the industrial administration spatially organised the landscape to be most efficient and to maintain hegemony over the population of workers, both enslaved and free.

Though viewshed analyses are commonly used in archaeology, they are rarely applied in a methodologically rigorous manner. In this article the entire landscape, environment and history was considered before using viewshed analysis. Doing so permitted the creation of a robust model. Archaeologists using viewsheds also rarely investigate the function that view or sight played in the past (Llobera 2007, 67). This article argues that views were used as a mechanism for control. Viewsheds from WF1415 cover significant portions of the landscape, mines and processing centres. Reciprocal viewsheds show that WF1415 was equally viewable from the mines and the landscape. These models suggest that the Wadi Ratiye was a landscape under panoptic surveillance. If so, then it was one tool used by the administration to discipline the workforce and increase productivity.

When comparisons are made with other historical landscapes with coerced workers, such as plantations, one finds similar observation structures. It could be argued that this might be a common response to controlling a landscape filled with slaves. What is clear when studying plantations is that while panoptic surveillance and observation were used, they were not the only method of control being practised. Worker supervision, tasks systems and violence were used in conjunction with surveillance to maintain control of subject populations.

The next goal in this research is to study other Roman metalla with robust viewshed analysis to determine how often panoptic surveillance is present and if there is evidence that it was used in conjunction with other forms of control. One can then begin to infer how sophisticated the Romans were at constructing panoptic systems and how much they relied on them to manage populations and production in extraction industries.


© Internet Archaeology/Author(s) URL:
Last updated: Tue Nov 3 2009