Bulgaria has a rich archaeological history covering all the epochs. Pre history, middle and dark ages, Byzantine, Roman, Iron, Bronze and Neolithic. So when Nigel King was approached to participate in a “High Risk” exploration into one particular area of Bulgaria (Mirkovo) that was rich in this heritage, it seemed to be a fantastic opportunity to break new ground with the use of small UAS in archaeological research.
The project was sponsored by the HRAR (High Risk Collaborative Research Program) from The Field Museum, Canada. Their description of the project is as follows: “This research project represented the first systematic investigation in Bulgaria of the upland zone (e.g., the Mirkovo Basin) for archaeological remains through aerial reconnaissance techniques and photography. The study takes a diachronic approach, incorporating periods through the 21st century. By using innovative techniques, the research promises to place upland centres within their overall archaeological settlement context. The Co-PIs of this project are Boyan Dumanov (New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria) and John Chapman (Durham University, UK).”
So it was a pretty cool project that took over a year to get to first flight, but had some fantastic results in terms of archaeological methodology, UAV Imagery, post processing and artifact collection. It is expected to lead to a number of research papers and a better understanding of the population dynamics of the area over the previous 8000 years. The project needed us to image a number of different subject types: arable land, pasture land and forest, both with known areas of archeology and with unknown areas (for prospection). Some areas also included the mountain range to the North of Mirkovo and a significant ridge to the West.