Simon Fraser University of Archaeology and Ethnology
Surveying plays a very important part in archaeological excavation.
"Surveying" means measuring the site, all of its bumps and dips and
the way the land or features on the land are laid out.
The first survey is known as a "contour survey" and this tells us very
basic information about the site, like where it is highest, where it is lowest
and where there are hills or creeks.
After this survey is done, archaeologists do other surveys called "leveling".
Leveling surveys are made before, during and after the dig.
They tell us about the differences (variations) in height in
major deposits or features.
"Spot heights" are also recorded.  For instance, the height of a mound,
or depth of a house pole pit were things that were measured
for their spot heights at DhRl 16.
Pieces of equipment used in archaeological survey are measuring tape
and meter sticks.  Very often we use a special instrument that
looks like a telescope, it is called a theodolite.
You might have seen a theodolite being used at the side
of the road by construction workers - this is the same instrument that we use.
 A theodolite can tell us exactly how high or how low the land is
in any part of the site.
Here is a picture of a theodolite in use:
theodolite in use
Another way of measuring the land is using the GPS system.
 This way of measuring the site, is done by a satellite!!
The measurements are very good and accurate.
Because of this, many archaeologists like GPS.
Unfortunately, it is very expensive, and as you have probably already learned, archaeology costs a lot of money - sometimes we have to think of ways to save money.
If we can measure a site using a theodolite, it is much cheaper.
Measuring a site and its features is important so you can make maps
and understand the land better.  Sometimes, surveying can be difficult though,
just one mistake can make a whole set of measurements wrong!
Zoweee, that's pretty heavy duty stuff!!