Archaeоlogical Map of Bulgaria – Transport and Pipeline Infrastructure Projects

Nadezhda Kecheva

Cite this as: Kecheva, N. 2018 Archaeоlogical Map of Bulgaria – Transport and Pipeline Infrastructure Projects, Internet Archaeology 51.

1. Introduction

Development-led archaeology in Europe is influenced by the Valetta Treaty (European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised). Valletta, 16.I.1992. European Treaty Series – No. 143 1992), ratified in Bulgaria in 1993 (Европейска конвенция за опазване на археологическото наследство (нова редакция). Издадена от Министерството на културата. Обнародвана в ДВ. бр. 70 от 10 Август 2004 г. 2004). Lack of precision in some aspects of the treaty allows for variation in development-led archaeology in different countries. The Bulgarian case, based on Bulgarian legislation, includes a clear workflow with a centralised structure controlling the quality of all legal archaeological fieldwork activities, permissions, data gathering and archiving.

2. Archaeological Information System 'Archaeological Map of Bulgaria' (AIS AKB)

AIS AKB is an archaeological information system of 'sites and monuments' type at a national level (Нехризов 2014). It contains information about archaeological sites from the Palaeolithic period to the Renaissance from across the whole country. It is regulated by a Decree from 2011 (Наредба № Н-2 от 6 април 2011 г. за създаване, поддържане и предоставяне на информацията от автоматизирана информационна система 'Археологическа карта на България' (в сила от 19.04.2011 г.) 2017) issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture. Its creation, development and maintenance are carried out by the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS). Regional administrators at lower levels and national administrators at higher levels are responsible for checking the quality of the users' input data. Reporting newly registered and excavated sites each year in AIS AKB is a necessary part of the annual archaeological reporting, closely related to issuing permissions for archaeological fieldwork for the following year. Data and information from AIS AKB are used in different fields: for the needs of state and municipal agencies, pure scientific research, Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment Reports.

3. Development-led Archaeological Project Workflow

Since the Bulgarian government started receiving financing from European programmes, a lot of transport and pipeline infrastructure constructions and both large and small scale development-led archaeological projects emerged. After 2011, the principle of the 'polluter pays' resulted in a structured project workflow in accordance with Bulgarian legislation being introduced – the Cultural Heritage Act from 2009 (Закон за културното наследство (в сила от 10.04.2009 г., посл. доп. ДВ. бр. 74 от 20 септември 2016 г.) 2017) and the Archaeological Fieldwork Decree from 2011 (Наредба № Н-00-0001 от 14 февруари 2011 г. за извършване на теренни археологически проучвания (в сила от 01.03.2011 г., посл. изм. ДВ. бр. 95 от 29 ноември 2016 г.) 2017), both issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture. NAIM-BAS, being the national centre and coordinator for all fieldwork, controlling them both scientifically and methodologically, and dealing with most of these projects with the help of specialists from regional and local museums. In accordance with Bulgarian legislation and using a defined price list, this structured workflow is based on:

The rest of this article focuses on field survey workflow.

4. Transport and Pipeline Infrastructure Projects

Figure 1
Figure 1: Field surveys in Bulgaria. Fieldwork, data input, and data analysis in GIS. Image: N. Kecheva

The centralised structure controls the quality of the work. Field surveys, being the first step of the fieldwork for development-led projects, are an important part of the whole process. The process also includes several steps (Table 1). The first is office-based, with preliminary data gathering – data from the national archaeological information system 'Archaeological Map of Bulgaria', legacy data, grey literature studies, analysis of remote sensing imagery, and information from regional and local museums. Field surveys are conducted using established and standardised methods for full documentation of field characteristics and archaeological materials using application of GIS technologies in the field and in the office (Нехризов 2012; Tzvetkova et al. 2012) (Figure 1). They include covering the whole buffer zone of the linear infrastructure route by field-walking using GNSS receivers, mobile GIS devices and smartphone applications. Data are systematically collected, with the team members 10 to 15m apart. Plotting the archaeological artefacts recovered helps to show their higher concentrations in an exact geospatial location. Based on them, and on the field observations, approximate scatters/borders of the archaeological sites are defined in GIS software.

Table 1: Work process in field surveys as part of the development-led projects
Table 1
Figure 2
Figure 2: Transport and pipeline infrastructure projects executed in the period 2011-2017. Different colours represent different projects. Image: N. Kecheva

A lot of transport and pipeline infrastructure projects were carried out in the same standard way – paid for by the developers and executed by NAIM-BAS (Figure 2). The first was the Nabucco gas pipeline project in 2011, which resulted in covering 30km² of the Bulgarian territory, using six teams and a total of 36 archaeologists involved in the fieldwork. Infrastructure projects continue with the South Stream gas pipeline project in 2012 and 2013, local pipeline projects in 2013, transport infrastructure (such as highways and railroads of national importance) in 2014-2017. As a result, more than 170km² were covered and more than 500 sites were registered (for the period between 2011 and 2016). Working with state agencies for transport and railroad routes results in good collaboration between both scientists and developers, with precise data collected in the field, full documentation, execution on time, and detailed final reports.

5. Archaeological Geographic Information System 'Archaeological Map of Bulgaria'

Figure 3
Figure 3: Archaeological geographic information system 'Archaeological Map of Bulgaria'. Image: N. Kecheva

The transport and pipeline infrastructure projects carried out in the period 2011-2017 resulted in the accumulation of large amounts of standardised field survey geospatial data. These data contribute to a change in the 'sites and monuments' register-type information system to an archaeological geographic information system based on standardised geospatial data for specific geospatial features (Figure 3). These geospatial features include point, line and polygon features with predefined attributes. An example of a polygon feature type is area covered, which is based on standardisation of observations made at the time of the field surveys (Table 2).

Table 2: Mandatory attribute values of AKB feature type 'Area covered'
Polygon/unit AKB feature type Description Additional mandatory attributes
Area coveredMarking of area covered by separate polygons/unitsField name VisualisationCode
Land useБунищеdump
Гора forest
Градска територия urban
Нива field
Пасище/ливада pasture
Скала rock
Трайни насаждения perennial
Land cover Градска територия urban
Засята/бранувана /ожъната нива seeded
Иглолистна гора coniferous forest
Изорана нива/буци ploughed
Лозе vineyard
Овощна градина orchard
Скала rock
Смесена гора mixed forest
Тревна растителност grass
Храстова растителност scrub
Широколистна гора deciduous forest
Visiblity 0-20% 0-20%
20-40% 20-40%
40-60% 40-60%
60-80% 60-80%
80-100% 80-100%
Strategy В труднодостъпен терен ATS
До 15 м I
М/у 15-30 м E
Pottery Number, default 0
Daub Number, default 0
Brick and Tile Number, default 0
Stones Number, default 0
Flints Number, default 0

6. Conclusion

All the successful large development-led transport and pipeline infrastructure projects show the efficiency of the existing structured and centralised system in Bulgaria. The control and the standardisation improve both scientific and methodological framework. Accumulated standardised data is very useful in a centralised archaeological information system such as 'Archaeological Map of Bulgaria'.


The author would like to thank the whole team working on the archaeological information system 'Archaeological Map of Bulgaria' whose leader is Assoc. Prof. Dr. Georgi Nekhrizov, NAIM-BAS. The author would also like to thank the former director of NAIM-BAS, Assoc. Prof. Dr Lyudmil Vagalinski, who has steered the developed strategy and workflow to this point.


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