Mercator-e Project


The impact of the transport infrastructures in the development of countries and territories is one of the most current topics in the European policies[1]. Behind the design and construction of a new infrastructure, different reasons can be found. The reasons that push the construction of new infrastructures are not always based on economic criteria. From Roman times to the present, there have been many political, social and obviously economic conditions that influenced the location and construction of new public works projects.

The Mercator-e project is designed to analyse the social, political and economical repercussions of the construction of transport infrastructures during several periods in the Iberian Peninsula. An integrated approach joining multi-proxy analysis (SNA applied to the network centrality, TNA to analyse transport costs & times, demography studies, interpolation and map algebra) and the study of archaeo-historical sources will be applied in different historical periods. The Iberian Peninsula is a perfect territory for analysing the impact of infrastructures due to its geographical morphology. This is because it is sufficiently extensive and in turn, only connected to the rest of the continent through a restricted zone that makes it a virtually isolated territory and shaped in itself. Historically, the Iberian Peninsula has had periods with very different political ideologies about the role and needs of infrastructure that will be analysed in this project: 1) The Roman era, a remote metropolis with clear intentions of economic exploitation. 2) The Middle Ages with great political fragmentation, territorial consolidations and periods of war, the so called ‘Reconquista’ and between the several newly emerged kingdoms. 3) The Modern Era, where Spain and Portugal conquered and dominated much of the overseas territories in America and in Africa and where large centralised royalties appeared. 4) The XIXth Century and the emergence of a new means of transport, the railroad.

Analysing the transport communication networks in various time scopes will offer to the academic society new quantified data about the infrastructures morphology and their impact in the political and economical evolution of these territories.

Mercator-e will offer a new point of view and new data over the questions about i) the historical territorial organisation analysed from the morphology of the communication networks; ii) the characteristics of the commerce and its reflection in the economy and the society over time; iii) the impact of political decissions in infrastructures and in the economical development of the territories. With the results of this project, it will be possible to contribute to a better understanding of 1) the European mobility routes and patterns, 2) the European cultural heritage and 3) the formation of European identities and cultures, all of them research poles recommended by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.

[1] Green Paper “TEN-T: A policy review – Towards a better integrated trans-European transport network at the service of the common transport policy” (2009) and New EU transport infrastructure policy – background (2013)