USA :He’s “great” for his age

Segovia, Aug 9 (EFE) .- A team of geologists has carried out an in-depth X-ray of the Segovia Aqueduct this week, which will provide more and better data on the origin and state of conservation of its stones, an unprecedented test in its almost 2,000 years of life.

At the moment, the “doctors” in charge of passing the tests on the old giant are optimistic in their preliminary diagnosis: “He is great for his age,” he says in an interview with Efe at the foot of the Jose Mediato aqueduct, of the Geological Institute and Minero de España (IGME).

His partner, Javier Martín, recognizes that “you cannot put your hand on fire” when answering about “the million dollar question”: the durability that this Roman aqueduct, dated between 112 and 116 AD, will have over time. C.

But it is known, according to the same expert, that the health and condition of the rock that composes it is “acceptable” and the general structure is in “very good condition”: “Granite is the building material par excellence, Despite being very difficult to work, extract and carve, “explains Javier Martín.

Precisely, because it is such a hard material, “of all the stone materials it is the one that has the most durability”, completes Jose Mediato.

In other previous studies carried out on the ancient monument, it has been observed that the signs of deterioration that it presents, such as the disintegration of the stone or the rounding of its ashlars, is a “very superficial damage, of a centimeter or less”, points out Martín.

“We will have to see how the current constructions are in 2,000 years, to see how they are preserved”, says Mediato, while looking up at the monument, 28 meters high and about 17 kilometers long in total, about 800 of work ‘purely’ Roman.

This was built at the end of the empire of Trajan and the beginning of Hadrian, with cranes that raised the ashlars and wooden falsework to design its 167 arches, on which the stones were placed without joining mortar.

The work of this team of geologists this week has been to study the composition of the construction material of the aqueduct to classify how many and what types of granites were used in its lifting and subsequent restorations and thus determine its place of origin.

To do this, Mediato shoots x-rays at the stone with his portable fluorescence analyzer equipment, which looks like a gun from the future to ignorant eyes on the matter, and serves to identify the chemical elements that make up the rock.

Meanwhile, Martín inspects the same material with a digital optical microscope, which resembles the pencil of an ultrasound machine and allows us to observe in detail the texture of the crystals, the minerals that form the rock and the state in which it is found.

Never before has such an in-depth study of the rock composition been carried out, and for this, five measurements of about 150 ashlars of the aqueduct have been taken with x-rays, which will result in more than 700 specific analyzes.

These will then have to be compared with the supply quarries from which the stone was extracted and which, as is known, are located in different points in the vicinity of the capital, such as the Ortigosa del Monte berrocal or in the Segovian town of Valsaín.

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Simultaneously, a team specialized in technology applied to heritage also works these days on the aqueduct. Both investigations, commissioned by the City Council’s Department of Historical Heritage, have a total budget of 14,000 euros.

In this case, the archaeologists Néstor Marqués and Miguel Fernández try to get as detailed a 3D documentation as possible of the monument to create a hyper-realistic digital replica that can be used for subsequent studies of the aqueduct and even for its tourist and cultural dissemination.

To do this, Fernández will take about 250 samples with a scanner, which functions as a surveying station: He launches a laser beam millions of times against a glass, which distributes it 360 degrees, to record the measurements and distances of the monument and its relationship with the surrounding buildings.

This combination of billions of points will be reproduced on the computer and, once crossed with the texture and color provided by the photographs taken by Néstor Marqués from all possible angles of the construction, they will generate a “perfect” 3D model of the monument. .

It will be very useful to observe the inaccessible parts of the aqueduct for future interventions of the monument, but also for its virtual tourist dissemination.

“So that everyone can see the aqueduct from their home anywhere in the world, especially now, if fewer people come, because of the pandemic,” says Néstor Marqués in an interview with Efe.

(c) EFE Agency

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