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Available languages — Tag:historic=archaeological site
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Public-images-osm logo.svg historic = archaeological_site
Dscf0105 600.jpg
A place in which evidence of past activity is preserved
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Useful combination
Status: In use


The tag historic=archaeological_site is not restricted to excavations, but should also encompass all visible ancient monuments, most of which will not have been excavated. Naturally, excavated monuments that are known should also be tagged, but please consider refraining from mapping non-obvious unexcavated sites as to do so could encourage damage from treasure hunters.


An archeological site is mapped as a node or an area with historic=archaeological_site.

In addition, the following parameters should be given to describe the details of the object.

  • site_type=bigstone - Natural stones that have been treated by humans are also listed here. Undecorated stones, even when they have mystic backgrounds or meanings, are not archaeological objects, and are mapped as natural=stone.
  • site_type=tumulus - Tumulus, a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans. Examples: Wikipedia-16px.png Tumulus and Wikipedia-16px.png Tumulus. See also historic=tomb with tomb=tumulus.
    • field=yes - Some graveyards consist of a number of tumuli. To avoid mapping all of them, the field tag can be used as an option.
    Please note that at least some tumuli are also megalith structures and that there is a proposal for mapping them as tombs as well (see below).
  • site_type=megalith - Megalith (as in English, German), mégalithe (French) = one or more stone boulders, decorated or undecorated, e.g. Wikipedia-16px.png Megalith or Wikipedia-16px.png Megalith.
    In many cases the Megaliths can be further differentiated, as in:
    When naming the megaliths, there is no avoiding the use the regional terms that have been coined in the different historical records and the varied history of the archaeological research. A unified English terminology is not possible, because for specific types of megaliths either no English word exists, or the established localised terminology is in use.
  • site_type=settlement - places where humans (or hominins like neanderthals) lived. Such sites contains manmade tools, weapons, pottery and various houseware, which form cultural layers. Usually those sites has no buildings or only foundations of buildings left. If there is some buildings or walls left, use historic=ruins or other appropriate tags instead.
  • site_type=villa_rustica - a Roman Villa in the open countryside (not in an urban or resort setting), typically consisting of residential and agricultural buildings as well as the farm area (rusticana). See also: Wikipedia-16px.png Villa rustica on Wikipedia

The following optional tags may also be useful on complement.

  • historic:civilization=* (or more precise subtags) - for the civilization (culture) that originally created the feature
  • sprockhoff=number - many graveyards are listed in the German Atlas der Megalithgräber by Wikipedia-16px.png Ernst Sprockhoff and can be referenced by this number.
  • ref:mhs=number - most archeological sites in France (even the smallest ones notably all prehistoric sites, unless their discovery is extremely recent) are classified as Monuments historiques in the public Merimée database, the number usually starting by "PA followed by digits brings details about the site, its approximate location and dmensions, its approximative date of construction, its state of conservation, a possible restauration, its level of protection, and accessibility (or not) to the public.

Overview Map

An Overview Map of archaeological objects in OpenStreetMap has been created. (It appears to be limited to German boundaries.) The objects are evaluated according to the properties defined here (as of May 2006), and visualised with pictograms. Pictograms with yellow background indicate further information from the tags via pop-ups. Once JOSM is started with the remote control plugin, every object can be loaded directly into JOSM.

It is planned to update the maps once per week, or on request. --Lübeck / translated to English 12:48, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

See also