About the Project

The aim of this project is to spatially reconstruct an exceptional architectural source from early modern Portugal called the “Livro das Fortalezas” (Book of Fortresses). This bound volume was created by a Portuguese squire named Duarte de Armas in 1509-1510. It includes a set of perspective drawings from two vantage-points of over 50 castles on the border between the kingdoms of Portugal and Spain and a second set of measured plans for each site.

Student researchers began working on the following aspects of the project in Fall 2017:

  • 3D reconstructions of the castles according to Duarte de Armas’ perspective drawings and measured plans
  • Categorization and tagging of architectural features and images of daily life in each of the 160+ drawings into a cloud-based spatial database
  • GIS analysis from data marking the location of each fortress (ex: viewshed analysis and least-cost-path analysis.)
  • Combining digitized images of the drawings and plans with GIS layers in a 3D GIS scene in ArcGIS Pro.
  • Research into procedural modeling techniques to help place 3d buildings of walled towns surrounding the castles.

About the Source Materials

Codex A

  • The most complete version of the work, richly annotated
  • Held at the National Archives of Torre do Tombo in Lisbon
  • Consists of 120 Perspective Drawings and 51 Plan Drawings
  • 14” X 19” Parchment sheets
  • Images on this site were taken from the 2016 facsimile, available on Amazon.

Codex B:

  • Drawings are less detailed than those in Codex A
  • 12" X 16" Flax paper sheets
  • Images on this site were retrieved from the Biblioteca Digital Hispanica.


  • Fronteira de Portugal fortificada pellos reys deste Reyno
  • Created by Brás Pereira in 1642
  • Contains 55 watercolor drawings
  • Images on this site were retrieved from the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal.


Edward Triplett, PhD - Project Lead

Ed is an Instructor in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University and a member of the Wired! Lab. He teaches courses on the design and construction of castles, monasteries and cathedrals during the medieval period, as well as a course on the application of GIS for the study of historical subjects. His field research and publications have focused on the architecture of Iberia’s military-religious orders during the Christian reconquest of Iberia, and the fortified border between Portugal and Spain in the 15th and 16th century.

Tim Senior, PhD - Collaborator

On-Site Data Acquisition and Custom Drawings

Duke Student Collaborators

Daniel Castro - Civil Engineering, 2020

Cyan DeVeaux - Computer Science and Visual & Media Studies, 2021

Rory Dierman - Engineering, 2019

Cameron Esses - Engineering, 2019

Brittany Forniotis - Doctoral Candidate - Art, Art History and Visual Studies

Jiaye (Hillman) Han - Art History, 2021

Sam Horewood - Doctoral Candidate - History

Mohammad Khatami - Computer Science, 2022

Audrey Magnuson - Public Policy, 2022

David Mellgard - History, 2023

Stone Mathers - Computer Science, 2019

Arjun Rao - Computer Science, 2022

Emma Rand - Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Environmental Science, 2022