This web site seeks to make the basic reconnaissance data from various aerial surveys available to a wider audience with potentially different research interests from those of the authors. Accordingly, it presents a selection of aerial photographs of archaeological sites, whether previously known or newly discovered, and of potential sites. In the first instance these derive from the multi-season programmes of survey in south Dobrogea, north Dobrogea and south-western Transylvania. In due course material from other survey programmes will be added.

The photographs presented here have not been digitally-enhanced. The images from Western Transylvania have been scanned from original slides. All the others were taken by digital cameras.

The photographic data may be searched by map location or by site name. In addition, by using the generic search function, it can be interrogated for more specific characteristics such as site type (e.g. fort, tumulus), attributed date (e.g. Iron age, Roman), the nature of the remains (e.g. extant, cropmark), or even a particular RAN number. For newly identified sites/potential sites the name is based on the nearest modern settlement, which is why in some cases there are multiple entries for the same place name differentiated by numbers (thus Venus 1, Venus 2). The character and location of each site is briefly described, with separate descriptions provided for each individual photograph and the date it was taken.

The original aerial photographs are held by Dr Ioana Oltean. Better resolution and/or unwatermarked photographs can be obtained by applying to her at the University of Exeter. Permission will not be denied to bona fide researchers, subject to appropriate acknowledgement of the source of the photograph in any resulting publication.

The Research

Though long established as the single most important method of finding new archaeological sites in lowland arable areas across large parts of western Europe, aerial reconnaissance was still virtually unknown as a practical archaeological survey method in Romania even into the later 20th century. Thus, the original project, set up by Prof. Bill Hanson (1998-2000; 2001-2004), sought to establish the parameters for the application of the technique in the particular environmental, soil and agricultural conditions of Romania. It focused on south-western Transylvania (Ţara Haţegului, Orăştiei Mountains and the mid Mureş Valley), which represented the heart of pre-Roman and Roman Dacia, and set out to use aerial archaeology to increase understanding of the history and development of this landscape, particularly from later prehistory to the immediate post-Roman period.

The success of this project prompted the establishment of a second, this time led by Dr. Ioana Oltean (2005-2007; 2010-2013), which set out to use aerial archaeology to further evaluate the nature and impact of the Roman conquest and subsequent colonisation on the transformation of indigenous settlement patterns across Romania. Southern Dobrogea was chosen as an area with a different experience of Roman contact to provide an opportunity for comparative analysis of patterns of landscapes use.

Though both of these research projects focused on the transitional period from Iron Age state to Roman province, they undertook also to record all archaeological sites that were visible from the air regardless of period, since aerial reconnaissance is a multi-period survey methodology.

The success of these longer term projects stimulated invitations to collaborate with other local research projects, including the STRATEG programme (Defensive strategies and trans-frontier policy; the integration of the Lower Danube into the Roman world) and investigations at Sarmizegetusa, Alba Iulia, Micia, Noviodunum, Salsovia, Cornesti, etc. Some of these resulted in shorter programmes of aerial reconnaissance undertaken in southern Moldova and northern Dobrogea (2008); along the Olt river valley, western Muntenia and Ţara Bârsei (2010); and in southern Crişana and northern Banat (2011).


Funding for the acquisition and processing of the imagery presented here was obtained from the Leverhulme Trust (1998-2000) and the British Academy (2001-2007); Archaeolandscapes Europe (2011-2013); and STRATEG (2008-9). The web archive was created with the help of funds from ArchaeoLandscapes Europe and the support of an Emeritus Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust.