Hi Tech & Low Tech Lowdown
Something Old Something New
Record keeping has always been fundamental to making sense of what we unearth as archaeologists. Its something of a truism in archaeology that excavation is destruction and so we must record what we’ve found so that others can see what was once there.
Of course excavation is also discovery but many of the discoveries we make come after the end of the dig in post-excavation. And its only by meticulous recording of everything we find that we – and future generations – can make sense of it all.
Our aim is to be able to recreate the position and composition of every feature, layer and find in three dimensions long after the dig has finished. Producing a visual record of the different features that we excavate is an important part of this. The traditional way of doing this is by hand drawing plans (you can see what these look like and how its done in the photos above).
But in addition to the traditional plans and sections and Adam’s photogrammetric record we’re using another decidedly 21st century technique – laser scanning.
This is a technique that’s becoming familiar to archaeologists in the recording of buildings but here we’re using it in an innovative and radically different way. Our colleagues from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute are laser scanning every individual feature and layer that we excavate.
They’ll then virtually stitch these scans back together providing a 3-D record of every part of every feature on site. This will enable them to create virtual sections (cake slices) through any part of the site at any angle we want. They’ll also be able to mesh this with the Ground Penetrating Radar data from the survey that brought us to the site in the first place to help develop our understanding of what the individual components of the GPR responses are caused by in this particular landscape. And this in turn will feed into the interpretation of the data from the wider Stonehenge landscape.
So we’ll be able to interrogate the physical relationships between all of the contexts on site in a way that has never previously been possible. Simples!