University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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No more pencils, no more field books… Archaeological drawing from total station data and digital photography
Celia Goncalves, Joao Cascalheira, Alexandrina Amorim, Nuno Bicho

Last modified: 2011-12-18


The use of total station in the archaeological excavation has undoubtedly revolutionized the collecting and recording field methods, with several advantages over the traditional practices: faster and more accurate measurements, easier handling of spatial and provenience data, immediate availability of data for visualization, real time analysis and interpretation, among others.

Combining these advantages with the ones from digital photography, an effective tool is created for the graphic recording of stratigraphic profiles and archaeological structures, with the ability to eliminate errors associated to traditional tape measured drawings. The method is based on the arrangement and rectification of a series of close-up and general photographs with three-dimensional coordinates taken from a set of preplaced numbered pushpins. These will allow, in addition to the high precision in the vectorization of features, the inclusion of the photographs and subsequent drawings into the site grid space using GIS.

This poster will focus on the comparison between the described method and the traditional tape measuring process, applied to the drawing of a burial context from a Portuguese Late Mesolithic shellmidden. The results provide levels of accuracy and resolution with errors less than 1mm from the total station/photograph method, which also reveal a greater exactitude in the representation of the detail of the skeletal elements.


Total station; Digital photography; Field drawings