Archaeological Survey & Exploration: Its Method and Technique

The interest of the present generation has increased day by day for the archaeological sites and heritage of hundreds years ago. In view of this interest of the present generation, the archaeological survey and exploration is also getting importance. The selection of a specific area and historic period is very important at the beginning of the archaeological survey and exploration. Then the aims and objectives of this survey and exploration are to decide. Archaeological survey and exploration work is performed by a few steps. The main four steps followed in this survey and exploration are briefly described below –

A) Research before Survey and Exploration: The following steps are executed in the research before archaeological survey and exploration.

A.1. Books Review: The books, research articles, magazines, journals and web portals related to history and heritage of the area selected for the survey and exploration are reviewed. The archaeological primary data of the area are collected. Then a tentative list of the archaeological sites is prepared.

A.2. Map Collection and Study: Different maps of the selected area for the survey and exploration are collected. Then the data inventory related to landscape, river, soil, land-form, communication system and administration of the area are prepared.

A.3. Written Documents Collection and Study: Old magazines and various documents of the private collection are collected. Then These are studied and reviewed.

A.4. Myths and other material collections: Myths and other materials  related to various ancient sites of the selected area are collected and reviewed for the survey and exploration.

A.5. Ethnological Data Collection: Various socio-economic data of the ethnic communities of the selected area are collected. These are analyzed and reviewed  for the survey and exploration.

A.6. Personal Contact: Personal contact with various prominent personalities who have interest in history and heritage of the selected area is executed for the survey and exploration.

B) Field Work: After executing the research before survey and exploration, the selected area is observed on the foot during the field work. Talking with the local people about the archaeological sites and heritage, the detailed information-data is collected. These information-data are recorded in the prescribed form. During the recording information-data, the four things are specially considered. These are- 

(1) Geographical information-data of antiquities and archaeological sites. such as geographical location, administrative location, communication system, distance from the district and upazila headquarters.

(2) Historic background of antiquities and archaeological sites.

(3) Details Descriptions of antiquities and archaeological sites and

(4) Cross-checking other information-data with antiquities and archaeological sites. In addition to the above mentioned four things, in the field level-

B.1 Interaction: Detailed information-data about antiquities and archaeological sites is obtained through interaction with the local people, public representatives, journalists, civil society, intellectuals and administration.

B.2. Information-Data Entry: During the field work, information-data entry as well as formal-informal data writing, GPS data collection, geophysical survey (land, wetland, river, pond, lakes, flood, soil color, soil profile, soil texture etc.), necessary drawings, photographs and other relevant works are done.

B.3. Usage of the Tools: Some hard and soft tools are used from the beginning to the  end of the archaeological survey and exploration. Some names of them are given below:

1.  ArcGIS, 2. AutoCAD,  3.  Adobe Illustrator, 4. Microsoft Office, 5.  GPS Device, 6. Leveling Machine, 7. Google Earth, 8. Soil Color Chart, 9. Compass, 10. Camera, 11. Measurement Tape,  12. Computers and 13. so on.

C) Research After the Field Work: The information-data related to antiquities and archaeological sites collected during the field work and the information-data collected during research before survey and exploration  are analyzed and reviewed in a scientific method. At this step, bricks, Pottery and other movable cultural objects found at the sites are carefully washed, monitored, measured and photographed. Color of soil sampled from the relics mounds is determined by using soil color chart  and soil texture is determined by adopting feeling method. Map with displaying antiquities and archaeological sites is prepared using ArcGIS software with available GPS data. The Contour and cross section of the relics mound is drawn using the elevation data calculated with the level machine during the field work. Using the Auto-CAD software, the ground-plan and the site-plan of antiquities and archaeological sites are drawn and the Adobe Illustrator software is also used to draw architectural elevation. A site code is given for each site obtained during the field work.

D) Presenting the Report: Finally a written report is presented after reviewing the descriptions about the antiquities & archaeological sites found during research before survey and exploration, the information-data related to them found during the field work and the information-data found during research after the field work; and getting together all drawings, maps and photographs.

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Reference: Knudson, SL, Culture in Retrospect, WAVEland Press, INC, Prospect Heights, Illinois 60070.

Author: Md. Shahin Alam

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