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Burial mounds and settlement patterns: a quantitative approach to their identification from the air and interpretation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Ioana A. Oltean*
*Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter, Laver Building, North Park Road, Exeter EX4 4QE, UK (Email:


The author describes a process of systematic integration of aerial and satellite imagery, which has provided a huge increase in the number of known burial mounds in the area where the Danube meets the Black Sea. Careful evaluation of newly acquired and archival imagery from satellites and lower level platforms shows where data is comparable and how visibility varies with imagery type. Excavations to date suggest the majority of the mounds are of Greco-Roman date and associated with the large towns and their road networks. Clusters of barrows exist, hinting at associated settlement aggregation, but a large proportion are single tumuli, raising interesting questions about their social role in this period. Above all, the large numbers revealed by the survey must invite new thoughts on whether, or in what way, the mounds reflect social ranking.

Research Article
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 2013

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