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Archaeological Heritage as a Sustainer of Biodiversity

Ulla Kadakas

Cite this as: Kadakas, U. 2022 Archaeological Heritage as a Sustainer of Biodiversity, Internet Archaeology 60.


Ulla Kadakas
A typical rural landscape in Northern Estonia - stone graves from the Bronze and Iron Age are situated in the middle of the field (Image credit: Ulla Kadakas)

This article discusses what archaeological heritage offers to society and the surrounding landscapes, in addition to the humanitarian knowledge of human origins and activities. Archaeological sites provide valuable habitats for insects, birds, open-air flora within the modern monoculture of agricultural lands and within commercial forests. Archaeological heritage in rural monocultural landscapes can be consciously used to sustain natural diversity.

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  • Keywords: archaeology, Estonia, archaeological heritage, biodiversity, agricultural heritage, bioheritage, habitat
  • Accepted: 21 March 2022. Published: 26 May 2022
  • Funding: The publication of this article is funded by the European Archaeological Council.
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Corresponding author: Ulla Kadakas
Formerly: National Heritage Board (Muinsuskaitseamet), Estonia

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Figure 1: Typical rural landscape in Northern Estonia - stone graves from the Bronze and Iron Age are situated in the middle of the field (Image credit: Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 2: Cup-marked stones, stone graves and ancient field system in Saaremaa (Image credit: Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 3: Autumn ploughing in V.I. Lenin's collective farm in 1957. EPM FP 147:81. Eesti Maaelumuuseumid SA, Eesti Põllumajandusmuuseum. MUIS

Figure 4: Sand burial mounds in the middle of commercial forest – surrounded by regeneration felling areas (Source: Maa-amet, Muinsuskaitseamet)

Figure 5: Measuring with Greenmeter (1). The dark blue hatching (5a) marks the archaeological settlement site in the heart of the village, but there are almost no other known archaeological elements in the surroundings and there are no other landscape elements – Ecological Focus Areas on the fields. In an area with a radius of 500m mainly red squares (5b), which means that the conditions for biodiversity are not good. Source: Maa-amet; Greenmeter

Figure 6: In addition to the settlement site in the heart of the village (6a), many stone burial mounds and cup-marked stones have been preserved in the fields. Measuring on the Greenmeter, it can be observed that near the stone burial mounds and stones the conditions of biodiversity are better than elsewhere in the largely open field (6b). Source: Maa-amet; Greenmeter

Figure 7: Number and area coverage of different types of archaeological heritage elements in the total area of archaeological heritage. In 2021 the total number of archaeological monuments and sites with spatial data on the land is 6524, which covers c. 4845 ha. ( Source Muinsuskaitseamet; Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 8: Location of archaeological heritage elements (excluding settlement sites) in the rural landscape (5691 monuments and sites, 2125 ha). ( Source Muinsuskaitseamet; Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 9: Field systems and iron-processing places (92 objects, c. 631 ha). (Source Muinsuskaitseamet; Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 10: Hillforts (176 objects, c. 409 ha). (Source Muinsuskaitseamet; Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 11: Inhumation cemeteries (578 objects, c. 413 ha). (Source Muinsuskaitseamet; Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 12: Natural sacred places (517 objects, c. 310 ha). (Source Muinsuskaitseamet; Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 13: Stone and sand burial mounds (2800 objects, c. 135 ha). (Source Muinsuskaitseamet; Ulla Kadakas)

Figure 14: Cup-marked stones (1511 objects, c. 5 ha). (Source Muinsuskaitseamet; Ulla Kadakas)

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