I’ve always thought that some of the most fascinating moments in history came from discoveries that were made unintentionally, for instance, when researchers go to explore an area for something specific and find something totally unexpected.
Did you ever think a Cold War spy satellite would end up teaching us something new about the Roman Empire?
In late October, science and history lovers were in a frenzy after declassified aerial photographs taken by a U.S. Cold War satellite spy from the 1960s and 1970s revealed a series of previously undiscovered Roman forts in Syria and Iraq.
There are hundreds of these Roman forts that have been captured in these images, and research findings on them were recently posted in Antiquity, the famous scientific journal that publishes peer-reviewed research on archeology around the world.
Around the 1930s, after archaeologists researched the same areas in Iraq and Syria from a plane, they found a little over 100 Roman forts.
They came to the conclusion they must have been built along the Tigris River in Iraq to the Euphrates River in Syria to act as a defense against Arab and Persian attacks.
However, these released images from the satellite captured 396 Roman forts and have given researchers more insight into what they may have actually been built for.
Unlike previous observations, these forts were widely distributed throughout the land and were not only found in a wall formation.
This has led researchers to believe that perhaps there wasn’t as much conflict in the area as previous research has suggested and that instead of primarily being used for defense, the forts were used for communication, trading, and cultural exchanges between the territories.