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A typological system for archaeological sites Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Group: Historic
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Documented values: 14
Useful combination
See also
Status: in usePage for proposal

Describes the sub-class of an archaeological site. More information at historic=archaeological_site.

The archaeological_site=* key was approved as a replacement to this key in December 2022, thereby resulting in site_type=* being deprecated for use with archaeological sites. However, some data consumers may currently only support the site_type=* tagging scheme and some members of the community disagree with assigning it to a deprecated status - particularly since it is so widely in use.


Main tag is historic=archaeological_site accompanied with one of the following tags:

Site type

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Other undocumented (suggested) values

Tag Alternative Tagging Description/link/Picture
abbey Abbey StBotolph'sPriory Colchester.JPG
agora Agora The central public space in ancient Greek city-states.
agricultural farm
amphitheatre An amphitheatre is an open-air venue used for entertainment, performances, and sports, mostly built during the ancient_roman time, which allows the spectators to watch from all sides.
asclepeion Asclepeion Greek healing temple, (named after Asclepius, the first doctor-demigod in Greek mythology.
barrow tumulus barrow
broch Broch. Iron Age drystone hollow-walled round house structure found in Scotland.
building Some kind of, generally isolated, single former building such as dwelling or barn. For a group of huts or buildings, consider settlement
burnt_mound Burnt mound
bushman_paintings painting with historic:civilization=*
cairn A cairn is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones raised for a purpose, usually as a marker or as a burial mound. Carrowkeel Passage Tomb - - 1929464.jpg
camp Often used on old UK maps to describe a roman army marching camp. These are usually marked by a low rectangular earth embankment and were often for temporary or semi-temporary use during army fighting campaigns. Care should be used in the UK as these are often mis-identified and re-classified by later archeaologists.
cave rock_shelter
cemetery grave_field See grave_field
charcoal_kiln A permanent structure made of materials such as stone for the controlled burning of wood to produce charcoal.
cliff_dwelling rock_shelter Cliff dwelling Dwellings formed by using niches or caves in high cliffs, and sometimes with excavation or additions in the way of masonry.
dendroglyph carving in the bark of a living tree
deserted_medieval_village village with historic:civilization=*
desert_kite Desert kite. Dry stone wall structures. The majority view on their purpose is that they were used as traps for hunting game animals such as gazelles, which were driven into the kites and hunted there.
dolmen megalith with megalith_type=dolmen Dolmen
domus Domus. Type of Roman house within a city as opposed to a roman_villa in the country.
earthworks earthwork
farm agricultural
fish_salting_factory An industrial site in the ancient Roman period where fish was salted.
grave_field cemetery A group of one or more human burials. For single burials, consider burial, tumulus, stone_ship, etc.
henge Henge, a Neolithic earthwork structure occuring mostly or exclusively in the UK and Ireland consisting of a ring-shaped bank and ditch, with the ditch inside the bank.
hill_fort historic=castle with castle_type=*
holy_well well
industrial A site of industrial archeaological interest such as an old mill, factory, flint working site, smelting site etc.
long_barrow barrow with some subttype, rather use megalith with megalith_type=long_barrow Long barrow, not only stone but wood too.
lime_kiln Lime kiln. Oven structure for creating lime, CaO, usually from limestone rock but sometimes plant material such as bracken.
mass_grave Mass grave: A mass grave is a grave containing multiple human corpses, which may or may not be identified prior to burial. Death having often occurred after a pandemic, through war or executions.
medieval_castle historic=castle with castle_type=* with historic:civilization=*
menhir megalith with megalith_type=menhir
midden Midden. A heap made from domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, mollusc shells, sherds, lithics
military_trench A trench used for military purposes (shooting)
mine A place where geological materials are extracted from the Earth.
mineral_extraction Mineral, rock, stone, gravel, peat extraction by surface quarrying or the surface expression of underground mining such as mine shafts/levels, spoil heaps, buildings
monastery Site of a religious settlement where monks or nuns live(d). Also referred to in English as abbey, nunnery, priory.
monolith megalith with megalith_type=*, or man_made=obelisk, or historic=monument with other tags


The main type of ancient megalithic edifice found in Sardinia, developed during the nuragic Age. Nuraghe Losa.jpg
oppidum Oppidum. A large fortified Iron Age settlement, usually Celtic, found across Europe.
painting If on rock rock_painting
prehistoric_fort historic=castle with castle_type=* with historic:civilization=prehistoric Stone age, bronze age, iron age fortification.
pictogram rock_painting, petroglyph , painting Both carved and painted symbols.
priory monastery
ridge_and_furrow lynchets Ridge and furrow or Lynchet
ring_fort fortification_type=ringfort
ringfort fortification_type=ringfort
rock_art possible confusion with pictogram, petroglyph Maybe defined as a carved rock surface that is also painted. This would separated it from petroglyph and rock_painting
rock_painting painting, possible confusion with petroglyph A Painting on a rock surface,usually sheltered from the weather. Bradshaw rock paintings.jpg
roman_fort historic=castle+castle_type=castrum with historic:civilization=ancient_roman/western_roman
roman_road - see also (also undocumented) road with historic:civilization=ancient_roman/western_roman
roman_wall wall with historic:civilization=ancient_roman/western_roman
round_barrow barrow with some subtype Round barrow, burial covered by a circular mound of earth. Usually Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age but earlier and later examples exist. Common in UK and Scandanavia. If the mound is elongated along one axis, then it is a Long Barrow.
ruins Consider historic=ruins with site_type more descriptive of the function of the site.
sacrificial_site - note: "_site" is superfluous
sanctuary A sacred place, such as a shrine. In antiquity, often dedicated to a certain Deity.
shell_midden midden
standing_stone megalith with megalith_type=menhir
stone_circle megalith with megalith_type=stone_circle A circle of standing stones from large (Stonehenge in UK) to 1m high stones around a diameter of a few meters.
stone_row megalith with megalith_type=alignment
stone_ship megalith with megalith_type=stone_ship Stone ship, a distinctive form of burial mostly found in Scandanavia, the Baltics and Northern Germany. The grave was surrounded by slabs or stones in the shape of a ship.
village settlement
villa roman_villa
villa_rustica roman_villa or villa
tomb - historic=tomb with tomb=*
trap_pit A pit dug for trapping animals, such as wolves. Common in Sweden as listed historical sites, "varg grop".

See for more values in use.

Non conforming values or evident aliases or typos

If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag.
Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!
If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag.
Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!
If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag.
Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!

Capitals - should use lower case

OSM values should all be lower case.


Please use English for site_type=*.

See also