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survey

OLogy Series
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card
219

survey

OLogy Series
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Before archaeologists can begin digging, they have to do a survey. Surveys help them find where people lived in the past. They walk across a site to try to detect where remains maybe buried. Sometimes they even survey sites from air planes using aerial photography. This helps them see the site all at once. Once they locate a site, they create a map of the site and decide where to dig.

When surveying a site, archaeologists have to use:

biology

geometry

physics

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Correct!

Archaeologists used to only rely upon tape measures, compasses, and geometry to calculate the angles and distances necessary to make a site map. Today, lasers and computers make mapping much easier.

Chuck Spencer, archaeologist

We have two basic kinds of data in archaeology: things and the location of things. We need both to try and understand ancient peoples.

Sometimes the best way to detect a buried settlement is from thousands of feet up in the air.

Fact
or
Fiction
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Fact

Aerial surveys can help archaeologists find things they wouldn't see on the ground. Looking down on Earth from the clouds changes your perspective!

Modern surveying equipment can detect things buried 60 feet underground.

Fact
or
Fiction
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Fact

Radar detects things buried underground. Equipment that picks up electric or magnetic differences underground can also detect buried remains.

What is it: to measure and map an area of land
Types: surface, aerial, and below ground
Common tools: transits, radar, aerial photography, computer models
Cool fact: When making a survey of an underwater site, sound waves can be used to help determine where objects are.

Image credits: courtesy of Charles Spencer; Chuck Spencer: courtesy of AMNH.