The BACH cartographers have been collating data, including historical place names, topographical features and archaeological and textual evidence analysed by other BACH team members. Mapping research currently focuses at two scales: the city, and the wider landscape of Balkh.
The historic city of Balkh is represented by archaeological remains from a number of different historical periods of occupation. The modern town, with its circular planned layout, covers part of the late Antique and early Islamic city but the current urban spread is much smaller than it has been in the past. Standing remains of several walls were identified from the earliest investigations of the city, but in spite of a number of excavations, the phases in the city’s development remain unclear. The BACH Project is combining data from excavated material, historical toponyms, and satellite imagery, to produce a composite plan of the urban landscape in a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) platform.
The Balkh Oasis stretches far beyond the city walls. The ruins of hundreds of smaller towns, villages, outposts and farmsteads are scattered across the irrigated zone. The Balkh river delta and its distributaries have shifted over time and have been altered by irrigation channels, and these changed are reflected in the settlement patterns. Using the Gazetteer of archaeological sites compiled by Ball (Paris, 1982), as well as modern satellite imagery, historic maps, and survey material collected by the Délégation archéologique française en Afghanistan (DAFA), the BACH project is exploring the hinterland of early Islamic Balkh and its relationship to the city. Another focus of the regional scale mapping is to analyse the evidence for routes connecting Balkh with other towns and cities in the region. As well as analysing historical travel accounts which detail these connections, archaeological evidence for roadside way-stations is being investigated through satellite imagery. Like the urban mapping, all data from the wider landscape study is collated and analysed within a GIS framework. The finished datasets will be published here as Google Maps layers. A work-in-progress example of a map with layers is shown below.
You can also view the KML files that are used by the above map directly in GoogleMaps by clicking here.