To Survey or Not to Survey

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0001.JPGThe question is: to survey or not to survey? As you all know surveying is an important task that takes time and effort to execute. Today is the second day of our intro to surveying work. Crow Canyon and the college field students are given permission to survey parts of private property. We covered some of the basics of the survey process such as how to do transects and how to walk evenly by keeping your bearings on the horizon so that we can cover one-hundred percent of our survey area. We had walked two transects and had found one site. As we had all formed a straight line that was spread evenly across we all walked straight across with a slow pace to locate any signs of artifacts and cultural features. Artifacts can be anything from animal or non-animal bones, pottery, and flakes. Features can be roomblocks, firepits, kilns, etc. At first we didn’t find as many artifacts but as we slowly moved through the tall, heavy sage bushes and we hit the jack pot. We found tons and tons of po20170602_094625[1]ttery sherds, some pieces of glass, flakes, plastic, and some porcelain. It had gotten to the point where everyone was shouting, “sherd” or “flake” which was funny because there were so many of them. I had found a couple of flakes, pottery, and a couple of prairie dog bones that were modern, but the bones don’t classify as as an artifact since it’s modern. Then there weren’t any more artifacts and we defined a cut off point where the site ends. You can find the cut off point of a site where there isn’t any evidence of features or artifacts. You place flags that go straight across to mark the boundaries where greatest density of artifacts and features are. You then have someone with a compass check their bearings while having the compass lined up with a certain object at the starting point. You then walk forward in a horizontal line to find any artifacts that you may have not seen the first time around.

There isn’t just one way to survey. It can be done by drone, if you didn’t already know. Drones are fairly new to surveying and are only going to become more advanced with time. Grant Coffey, who is the GIS archaeologist at Crow Canyon, knows a thing or two about drones that he explained to us. “The imagery from 20170602_154309[1]drones can be used in a lot of different ways. One of the ways that they can be used is to create individual images called mosaic. It gives you precise accurate base plate knowledge to situate a lot of different cultural features like the site boundary and feature extents.” These images are used on a GIS software to give a precise 3-D remodeled structure from a drone.





Michael Moralez, 2017 Field School Student


Author: Crow Canyon College Field School

Mission The mission of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center is to advance and share knowledge of the human experience through archaeological research, education programs, and partnerships with American Indians.

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