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Geosciences 2019, 9(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9010011

Mapping Archaeology While Mapping an Empire: Using Historical Maps to Reconstruct Ancient Settlement Landscapes in Modern India and Pakistan

1
Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK
2
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, CB2 3ER, UK
3
The Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology, 43003 Tarragona, Spain
4
Formerly of the Department of Asia, British Museum, London WB1B 3DC, UK
5
Department of AIHC and Archaeology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 November 2018 / Revised: 17 December 2018 / Accepted: 19 December 2018 / Published: 25 December 2018
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Abstract

A range of data sources are now used to support the process of archaeological prospection, including remote sensed imagery, spy satellite photographs and aerial photographs. This paper advocates the value and importance of a hitherto under-utilised historical mapping resource—the Survey of India 1” to 1-mile map series, which was based on surveys started in the mid–late nineteenth century, and published progressively from the early twentieth century AD. These maps present a systematic documentation of the topography of the British dominions in the South Asian Subcontinent. Incidentally, they also documented the locations, the height and area of thousands of elevated mounds that were visible in the landscape at the time that the surveys were carried out, but have typically since been either damaged or destroyed by the expansion of irrigation agriculture and urbanism. Subsequent reanalysis has revealed that many of these mounds were actually the remains of ancient settlements. The digitisation and analysis of these historic maps thus creates a unique opportunity for gaining insight into the landscape archaeology of South Asia. This paper reviews the context within which these historical maps were created, presents a method for georeferencing them, and reviews the symbology that was used to represent elevated mound features that have the potential to be archaeological sites. This paper should be read in conjunction with the paper by Arnau Garcia et al. in the same issue of Geosciences, which implements a research programme combining historical maps and a range of remote sensing approaches to reconstruct historical landscape dynamics in the Indus River Basin. View Full-Text
Keywords: archaeological landscapes; settlements; historical maps; Survey of India; Archaeological Survey of India; heritage; colonial studies archaeological landscapes; settlements; historical maps; Survey of India; Archaeological Survey of India; heritage; colonial studies
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Petrie, C.A.; Orengo, H.A.; Green, A.S.; Walker, J.R.; Garcia, A.; Conesa, F.; Knox, J.R.; Singh, R.N. Mapping Archaeology While Mapping an Empire: Using Historical Maps to Reconstruct Ancient Settlement Landscapes in Modern India and Pakistan. Geosciences 2019, 9, 11.

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