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In Central Asia, the introduction of mechanised farming and the transformation of the landscape caused by agricultural intensification over the last 50 years have resulted in the massive destruction of archaeological remains. In this paper, we focus on an underestimated and unexploited type of remote sensing for the study of landscape change and anthropic impact on cultural heritage: 1:10,000 Soviet military maps of the 1950s. We present their use in the case study of the Archaeological Map of the Samarkand region. We argue that their precision and the early date at which they were produced make it possible to employ them as a reference tool for systematic survey and archaeological heritage management in Central Asia and throughout the former Soviet Union. We discuss the results of an archaeological survey based on these maps and show how they can be used to evaluate the destruction of archaeological mounds during the last 50 years, by contrasting them with modern satellite imagery.
Keywords : Soviet military maps, Samarkand region, Heritage management, Archaeological prospection