Abstract for: A System Dynamics model of sustainable agriculture in a fringe environment. The Roman archeological setting of the Kharga Oasis

Within the ERC LIFE - Living in a Fringe Environment project (www.life.polimi.it), we develop a system dynamics model to simulate the agricultural system of the Kharga oasis. This Roman archeological settlements, in Egypt’s Western Desert, represent an extraordinary case summarizing the whole history of agricultural organization in difficult environmental conditions. The model can be used to simulate the dynamics of multi annual crop production in different case study and conditions. Simulations are presented to provide a reconstruction of the functioning of this unique agricultural setting in a fringe environment, but also demonstrating the broader concept of long-term agriculture sustainability which is only achievable by the wise management of water and soil organic matter integrated by crop rotation. The data used in this study come from a combination of activities, including fieldwork (physical observations, survey, collection of samples) and office work. The possibility to extract mathematical models will offer an important tool to be used in the study of a large number of ancient agricultural sites. This method can be especially useful to analyze the Roman agricultural installations of Egypt’s Western Desert, but could also be applied to a plethora of other similar sites, scattered along the empire’s desert frontier.