Serra AKBOY / Robert WARDEN
(Texas A&M University, USA)


Documenting field discoveries in archaeology is important for preserving as-found physical and spatial conditions of artifacts.The Center for Heritage Conservation, Texas A&M University has spent three summer sessions (2008-2010) consulting with the Maya Research Program in Belize documenting the discoveries of different Mayan sites. We have employed three-dimensional laser scanner, structured light scanner, total station and photogrammetric tools  to record field discoveries  as they are uncovered.  These sites are being explored documented and recovered  due to the sensitivity of their location. It is important that documentation of these archaeological findings – the major data resources for understanding the culture – be completed quickly to keep from inhibiting the progress of the site exploration. In this paper, we discuss how archaeology has established a remarkable bound with technological tools.  We use the recording and documentation project of Mayan sites in Be

lize as a case study.  Our goal is to map the digital surveying applications in the archaeological fieldwork and evaluate the benefits and disadvantages that these tools bring to the discipline.


Of particular interest to archaeologists is quick and accurate documentation of in-situ artifacts.  Archaeology is a destructive endeavor and it is very important in understanding cultural practices to record the spatial organizations of artifacts as they are discovered.  Traditional techniques of hand measuring and drawing have proven track records for 2D recording but are very time-consuming. Technology’s real promise and true power appears at its best when incorporated into the archaeological discovery. As archaeologists excavate, recording the different strata of deposits in a trench becomes a tedious task. In order to expose and retrieve buried remains of one epoch, the archaeologists have to destroy other layers of deposits. Digital surveying technologies have valid applications in mitigating this practice. The Center for Heritage Conservation, Texas A&M University works with the Maya Research Program in Belize aiding their work on different sites documenting the disc

overies in the field. We have been using three-dimensional  laser scanner, structured light scanner, total station and photogrammetric tools on burials and caches in an effort to document them in-situ. As archaeologists unearth new layers of data, the surveying team record these different layers. Thus, the archaeologists have an extensive and highly accurate record of each layer of deposits as they excavate further. Understanding is the rationale for making informed decisions, conservation planning and allocating resources to the archaeological site. Recording and documentation is about enhancing our understanding of  archaeological information. This paper discusses the role of digital surveying tools in recording and documentation of archaeological discovery and examines the issues that these tools bring to the realm.


Field Archaeology, Digital Surveying Tools, Technology