Archaeological surveys are the method of testing the potential archaeology of an area without causing disturbance to deposit or reducing it to a minimum. Rural and urban sites demand different methods of archaeological prospection.The appropriate use and combination of several technologies can provide a good base to evaluate the anticipated archaeology. As I know the technical premises of the involved techniques and carried many of them out myself, I am able to take an informed decision on the most suitable techniques to use.
Fieldwalking involves the collection of artefacts from the surface of ploughed land. The finds are marked on the surface and are measured by GNSS (GPS) or TST (total station). The mapped finds provide invaluable evidence for the location, dating and nature of the underlying archaeology, This can be used to inform further evaluation techniques like aerial and geophysical surveys.
The survey of earthworks demands a high degree of archaological interpretation The use of totalstation and other survey instruments, like DGPS, has eased archaeological topographic surveying and enabled relatively inexpense surveys of large tracts of landscape. Sometimes, when the preserved archaeology is very shallow or in wooded areas, a Lidar survey might be more effective. Though the gathering of the primary data is expensive, it might be able to gain data from environmental and other agencies for research and non-profit projects.
Remote sensing is of special interest in landscape surveys. In some regions, like the Near East, satellite imagery is of importance, e.g. high resolution data from the Corona missions in the 1960s are now declassified and are an excellent source before the cultivation of large areas. In other regions historic aerial photography, such as military reconnaissance from World War II (e.g. TARA) are of interest to reconstruct the changes in landscape and to detect further sites which might not preserved today.
The benefit of multi-spectral data is still underestimated in landscape surveys and might be especially useful in the survey of river valleys.
The interpretation of such surveys in combination with geophysics, topographic surveys of individual monuments, the results from excavations and palaeoenvironmental data using GIS allows to create a formation model of the landscape and predict the location and preservation of potential sites.
Diverse geophysical methods provide rapid and cost-effective technologies for the detecting buried archaeological features. I have worked together with colleague carrying out resistivity and magnetometry survey in the field and evaluated such surveys with Archaeo-Surveyor. Further, I analysed and interpreted such surveys as well as georadar investigations.
Since 1983, I work on archaeological excavations. During this period, I gained experiences on excavations, which were carried out under different circumstances (research and rescue) and conditions (climate, soil etc.). Time scheduled, staffing and budget required prioritising and flexibility.
There are two main practices of excavation, the stratigraphic and the arbitrary. I am able to adopt the appropriate excavation method to the specific conditions of an archaeological site.
A watching brief involves the monitoring of works such as the stripping of topsoil and infrastructure projects, such as the digging of service trenches. It is difficult to identify and interpret the archaeological features in the narrow trenches and potential delay is often upsetting the developer. Finds are usually unstratified, unless they can be assigned to the stratification in the recorded section.
I am proud to have delivered the most projects within the set time schedules by using modern recording techniques.
The stratigraphic excavation removes the archaeological deposit following their individual shape in reverse order of its accumulation. It is usually more time-consuming and demands more skilled staff than arbitrary excavation. Nevertheless, it is the only possible method to use at sites with complex stratigraphy. Cumulative sections allow to control the order and to recognise any errorrs in excavation. A problem occurring on many urban excavation is that the earliest levels are often not reached due to the limited time schedule. It is possible to avoid this by using machines when excavating thick demolition layers, such as the backfill of modern cellars.
Arbitrary excavation summarise the removal of soil by any possible means, e.g. the standard used on many German excavation is digging in spits, the controlled excavation in measured levels of a predetermined thickness “Planumsmethode”. This method is well suited for the excavation of large open areas. At sites showing stratigraphy, this method should be restricted to horizons where no differentiation in soil is recognisable. Nowadays, it is generally agreed that the arbitrary process of excavation is not suitable for the excavation of deeply stratified sites, such as urban centres or tells, as it removes finds form its archaeological context and the find becomes unstratified and therefore unsuitable for dating.
Digital spatial forms for an decade an integral part of every archaeology project. I am used to capture, store and evaluate data for a wide range of projects. I use total station equipment and digital photogrammetry for data capture on a daily base and produce interpretative site plans, topographic plans and 3D models using GIS and CAD. Nevertheless, I am also familiar with use of survey-graded GNSS (GPS), time-of-flight laser scanners and the processing of different data formats.
For my special dedicated photogrammetry website which will finalised in due course follow this link.
Today, total stations are standard equipment on archaeological excavations. This instrument integrates an electronic theodolite for measuring angles with an electronic distance meter (EDM). It is used for the direct measurement of discrete points, which are either manually or automaticly joined when uploading to CAD or GIS. The smoothness of the delivered plan depends on the frequency of survey points. Though the instrument itself measures with mm-precision, the accuracy is influenced on the length of the reflector staff. The longer the staff is the larger the potential spatial error of the measurement.
For the Tell Fecheriye project; I created a special coding list to allow automatic upload of selected point data to CAD and the site database IADB. The later concerns especially the coordinates for finds and the outline of contexts and join the survey data explicitly to unique contexts and finds.
I carried out different types of measurement, like traverses, the stakeout of excavation trenches, the measurement of excavation with reflectors and reflectorless direct measurement of buildings and worked with different brands (Leica, Sokkia, Nikon).
Rectified Photography is a imaged-based surveying techniques, for the fast and accurate measurement of 2D-data of planar surfaces. It is commonly used in building recording, but knowing the constraints of the technology it also can be used at excavations. Here, it is especially useful in the recording of sections, elevation of walls and floor levels.
Imagery from photogrammetric surveys can be used to accurately map and mesh 3D-data from excavations and finds. Using digital photos, I am able to create 3D-models of complete excavation trenches, architecture and artefacts.
Recent developments in digital photography and software have evolveed photogrammetry to a cost-effective and rapid way for the creation of a high quality truely 3-dimensional archaeological record.
I am proficient in technical area of archaeological illustration and able to select the appropriate technique for various types of artefacts and sites as well as maps. I can transfer illustration from different sources (manual, CAD) into printable masters and process photos using Gimp or Photoshop.
I usually carry out artefact illustrations by manual drawing. Though I have mainly drawn pottery from different periods, I also have experience in the illustration of other materials, such as metall, stone, bone and timber finds. The methodology, I use for measurement and drawing, depends on the object to illustrate. Commonly, manual measurement and drawing is rapid. Nevertheless for more complex objects, I often use photogrammetric techniques, create orthophotos and transfer these into interpretative line drawings by CAD.
For more than a decade, I use CAD for the creation of detailed plans of archaeological feature and site plans. Measurements from metric surveys, I upload to CAD to create archaeological site plans, accurate building plans and topographic site maps. Further, I have some practice in the creation of 3-dimensional reconstructions of archaeological features.
GIS is not only a powerful tool for landscape analysis and the creation of distribution maps, it also can be used for the analysis of archaeological excavations, especially in the case of large open area excavations. For the demands of a more complex site, IADB a GIS-database developed by Mike Rains (YAT) offers interesting tools. Adequate true 3D-GIS systems for recording and analysing sites with a complex stratigraphy are currently not on the market. Nevertheless, some approaches used by geology are promissing and it is hoped that some of these might be adopted to the special archaeological specifications in the near future.
Some experimental WebGIS-content has been inserted to this website, please follow the links in the top navigation bar.
Databases are an integral part of GIS. I common in the use and administration of databases. Nevertheless, I have also developed own databases using MS-Access and MySQL as DBMS, such as a complex excavation database for the administration of data from the excavations in Naumburg and Merseburg. At the Fecheriye project, I introduced the web-based IADB as site database with the kind permission of Mike Rains, YAT.