This week we had Daniel flying the drone over the cleaned surface, barely beating the rain, and giving us the much needed overview picture of the site. The overview picture confirms what we suspected – features are scattered over a large part of the trench and beyond the boundaries of our investigation. The majority seems to be circular post-hole like features very varying in size. A couple of centrally located features excite us with both their size, placement and relation to each other 😉 Some features can already at this stage be viewed as hearths and are mostly situated in the southernmost part of the trench. Otherwise, the surface is quite obviously dominated by plough furrows, hundreds of them, as well as a couple of long ditches transecting the entire site. We have numbered and individually photographed 246 archaeological features defined so far and have also started to make cross-sections through some of them. Investigating the features will dominate the rest of the excavation. Sadly, that will be done without help from Anton and Peter, both of whom have been with us 4 weeks and have proven themselves to be true troopers of archaeology – their effort was highly appreciated and will be missed. They left together with Jonathan and the remaining, diminished team thus has the fortune to investigate all the features no matter the weather 😀
Hopefully, there will be a drone involved during the forthcoming excavations as well as some serious time-lapsing 😀 (which will probably be much more interesting than examples below, but it was still fun making both).
Today was all about aerial photography which is constituting a part of the documentation at our site using 3D modelling and photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is a process that produces spatially accurate images from ordinary photographs – with these images being georectified we can produce photographic plans of our site and its stratigraphy and take accurate measurements directly from the photo (!). This method is substantially improving the archaeological documentation during excavations and seems by far the best choice for recording topographical data at an archaeological excavation 😉 I am fortunate that archaeologists at the Uppsala University in Sweden are currently developing the method for practical uses in the field and both professor Frands Herschend and dr. Daniel Löwenborg from Uppsala are on a voluntary basis involved in my project. Today’s photo-shoot using a drone was aimed at creating so-called background to all the other data we are collecting at the site.
As expected, we also established that the part of the trench 1 that was soaked yesterday meant archaeological features in that part being much better perceived today than the features in the dry part of the trench. Not to mention how much easier it is to dig when the soil is damp. Obtaining and combining a number of hoses into one 125 meters long hose and connecting it to the tap by the churchyard we have now a method to spray the trenches whenever there is a need instead of carrying buckets with water.
Today we were taking to the skies at our site 🙂 – something that made me to push the video button on my phone that I hardly know how to use and with a great professionalism (ahem-ahem…) to document how it all looks like.
There is no question that archaeology today is not only digging holes in order to discover the traces of past people and cultures, there are so many other ways to get clues about what is underground. And I am all about testing new methods, especially, non-destructive methods, while working towards appropriate methodological approaches in the archaeological field-studies. Therefore, when my dear friend and colleague Dr Daniel Löwenborg from Uppsala university suggested testing photographing the site of Sa 14.9 with the help of aerial drone, there was no hesitation to whether we should give it a try.
Drones – unmanned aerial vehicles operated with radio-controlled handsets – are becoming increasingly popular in many kinds of scientific research and the use of drones has proven to be a great tool for, among other things, identifying archaeological sites. Drones allow archaeologists to cover huge areas of investigation very quickly meaning that f.ex mapping things can become a fairly fast and much simpler process with the help of drones. Now, it is not the drone itself that is working the miracle, it is the stuff strapped onto the drone that is the most important thing; and archaeologists are attaching cameras, video cameras, infrared sensors, magnetometers, barometers and GPS devices on drones to assist in their work.
However, we just tested the potential of using a drone photographing at Kvarnbo, because vegetation at the site right now is not really suitable for the simple aerial photographing as the field is not harvested yet and the crop is too high. Thus, it was not a work but a mere pleasure taking to the skies. In any case, as a result of “playing around” with the drone-driven camera we did come to the conclusion that the device will be used at the site later on when the conditions are right for aerial photographing in order to see hidden features. F.ex stone walls that lie beneath the surface often hinder the plants that grow above them and their outlines may be seen where plants are not growing very well. Unfortunately, this is not really the case when the season is rainy and this summer on Åland so far has not been characterized by drought. Thus, the drone and its operator will be back on Åland and taking to the skies might become a habit at Kvarnbo 😉