Re-discovering ancient landscapes: Archaeological survey of mound features from historical maps in northwest india and implications for investigating the large-scale distribution of cultural heritage sites in South Asia

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Orengo, HA 
Alam, A 
Green, LM 

jats:pIncomplete datasets curtail the ability of archaeologists to investigate ancient landscapes, and there are archaeological sites whose locations remain unknown in many parts of the world. To address this problem, we need additional sources of site location data. While remote sensing data can often be used to address this challenge, it is enhanced when integrated with the spatial data found in old and sometimes forgotten sources. The Survey of India 1” to 1-mile maps from the early twentieth century are one such dataset. These maps documented the location of many cultural heritage sites throughout South Asia, including the locations of numerous mound features. An initial study georeferenced a sample of these maps covering northwest India and extracted the location of many potential archaeological sites—historical map mound features. Although numerous historical map mound features were recorded, it was unknown whether these locations corresponded to extant archaeological sites. This article presents the results of archaeological surveys that visited the locations of a sample of these historical map mound features. These surveys revealed which features are associated with extant archaeological sites, which were other kinds of landscape features, and which may represent archaeological mounds that have been destroyed since the maps were completed nearly a century ago. Their results suggest that there remain many unreported cultural heritage sites on the plains of northwest India and the mound features recorded on these maps best correlate with older archaeological sites. They also highlight other possible changes in the large-scale and long-term distribution of settlements in the region. The article concludes that northwest India has witnessed profound changes in its ancient settlement landscapes, creating in a long-term sequence of landscapes that link the past to the present and create a foundation for future research and preservation initiatives.</jats:p>

historical maps, heritage sites, GIS, landscape archaeology, Survey of India, South Asia, Indus Civilization, archaeological survey
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Remote Sensing
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European Research Council (648609)
British Council in India (IND/CONT/G/16-17/75)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (746446)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (794711)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/P027970/1)
European Research Council