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Soviet topographic maps and burial mounds of the Yambol province: digital workflow for mortuary landscape verification

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During a two-week campaign in 2017, we verified burial mounds from 40-year-old Soviet topographic maps covering the northern part of the Yambol province, southeast Bulgaria. The aims of the project were to monitor the health of the burial mounds as well as to assess the reliability of Soviet maps at 1:50 000 scale and their utility for archaeological purposes. Three teams of volunteers visited and systematically documented 257 archaeological features, of which 200 were identified as burial mounds. Field documentation was conducted digitally, using a customization of the FAIMS Mobile platform, an offline ystem for integrated collection of multimedia with structured and spatial data. After field-capture, data were synchronized and labelled automatically, allowing the teams to focus on questions of interpretation, burial mound definition, and the assessment of topographic map reliability. Of the present sample of mounds in the landscape, 73% were documented in the Soviet maps with very little spatial or attribute error. Comparison of mound condition with monitoring done in the south part of Yambol during 2009–2010 shows that while mounds are destroyed less aggressively, a larger percentage of mounds is impacted in the northern (4% of pristine mounds) compared to the southern (11%) part of the Yambol province.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArchaeological Prospection
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Bulgarian archaeology, cultural heritage monitoring, FAIMS platform, mobile computing, Soviet topographic maps, Thracian burial mounds

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