Practical, field-based archaeological survey and recording is a core component of teaching and research within the Department of Archaeology & Anthropology. To support this, the department has a dedicated storeroom that houses an impressive array of the latest survey equipment. We pride ourselves on allowing our students to use the equipment as much as possible in order for them to gain vital skills to enhance their career and graduate opportunities, as well as contributing to departmental research projects domestically and overseas
Survey grade GNSS
We have 4 Leica GS15 instruments within the department. Using the latest GPS technology, these can capture individual 3D coordinates of anywhere in the world with an accuracy of 1-3cm and a precision of <1cm. The instrument can be used for rapidly recording archaeological excavations, elevation changes on the ground surface and measuring the position of forensic evidence.
Recording position of evidence during simulated forensic exercise (Leica GS15)
Setting out the position of archaeological excavation trenches (Leica GS15)
Topographic survey of Bronze Age burial mound in south Dorset Setting out the position of archaeological excavation trenches (Leica GS15)
3D laser scanner (long range)
Our Leica C10 3D Laser Scanner is capable of collection 50,000 individual three dimensional data points per second at a range of up to 100m. The data can be used for rapid recording of archaeological remains, landscape modelling and virtual reconstructions. BU projects include the monitoring of erosion rates of prehistoric earthworks in Dorset, the identification of clandestine graves, and the 3D visualisation and interpretation of Skorba Prehistoric Temple on Malta.
Skorba Neolithic Temple, Malta (World Heritage Site) 3600BC
Southern Neolthic Henge, Knowlton, Dorset Skorba Neolithic Temple, Malta (World Heritage Site) 3600BC (Leica C10 3D Laser Scanner)
3D laser scanner (short range)
Our Next Engine short range laser scanner is capable of collection 150,000 individual three dimensional data points per second at a range of up to 5m. The scanner is used extensively in the heritage sector for virtual reality object modelling and reconstruction. Department led projects include the 3D visualisation and interpretation of Roman Imperial portraits and the analysis of footprints for archaic hominid identification.
Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD), recovered from Bosham Harbour, Hampshire (short range laser scanner)
Foot print of Homo erectus (1.5 million years old) discovered near Koobi Fora N. Kenya (World Heritage Site) (short range laser scanner)
Grave Stone from abandoned graveyard, East Stoke, Dorset (short range laser scanner)
Total Station Theodolite
We have a 5 Leica TS06 Total Stations and 1 Leica TS15 Robotic Total Station. These instruments capture individual three dimensional points at a range of up to 1km with an accuracy and precision of less than 1cm, as well as measuring angles and distances. The data can be used for plotting artefact locations for archaeologists, mapping evidence from crime scenes and for measuring topographic changes in the ground surface.
Measuring the location of artefacts found during an archaeological excavation (Total Station)
Recording the position of archaeological features to add the site plan using a Total Station
Results of a topographic survey using a Total Station over the remains of a 16th Century glass smelting site
Magnetic Fluxgate Gradiometers
Our department has 6 fluxgate Gradiameters: 4x Bartington 601 duel sensor gradiometers; 1x Geoscan FM256; 1x Geoscan FM36. These instruments are used for measuring minute variations in the magnetic field that are caused by hidden anomalies in the ground such as archaeological disturbances, geological features, pipes, cables, waste drums, unexploded ordnance, and other signs of human activity. The instruments are used extensively for archaeological prospection and forensic investigation.
Surveying ruined 13th Century town of Songo Mnara, Tanzania using a Magnetic Fluxgate Gradiameter (World Heritage Site)
Results of Gradiometer survey from the Faculty's Durotriges Big Dig Project
Students collecting data using a Magnetic Fluxgate Gradiameter for Independent Research Projects, West Dorset
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV; drones)
The department has 4 drones (3x DJI Phantom 3 Pro; 1x DJI Mavic 2 Pro) which are used to capture vertical and oblique photograph as well as high resolution video, from elevations up to 120m. The UAV can be used in a variety of different roles, such as a prospecting tool to detect buried archaeology, for rapidly recording archaeological features under excavation and for creating 3D digital surface models. BU projects include the Durotroges Big Dig in west Dorset, The DEMELZA project in Cornwall and the the Vlochos Archaeological Project in Western Thaessaly, Greece.
Digital surface model of archaeological features under excavation
Evaluation trench through multiple phases of a Roman villa taken from UAV (drone)
Vertical image of archaeological features under excavation taken from UAV (drone)
Earth Resistance Meters
The department has two types of resistance meters: a Geoscan RM15 and a GeoScan RM85. These instruments are used for archaeological prospection by detecting small changes in the resistance of soil below the ground surface. This can help identify archaeological remains such as walls, ditches and graves.
We have 8 Leica NA720 Auto Levels which our students use to learn the basics of measured survey. The instruments can measure relative height difference, distances, and angles, and are an essential tool within archaeological fieldwork.
Planning and levelling of archaeological features under excavation using an auto level
Magnetic Susceptibility meter
The department has 2 Bartington MS2 Meters- one for field use, and one for laboratory use. The field instrument can be used to undertake a rapid assessment of top soil magnetic enhancement, a strong indicator of anthropogenic activity, and is therefore an excellent tool for identifying archaeological sites. More detailed analysis of soils from different archaeological deposits can be undertaken using the laboratory based instrument. Department projects involve identify medieval mining activity in Cornwall, understanding the social use of space in Bronze Age Houses in Scotland, and characterising ancient agricultural surfaces in Malta.
Magnetic susceptibly values across a Bronze Age House floor excavated in the Western Isles, Scotland
Magnetic susceptibility from agricultural terraces surrounding the Prehistoric Temple at Skorba, Malta
Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
The department operates a MALÅ Ramac X3M Ground Penetrating Radar system and is widely used in both teaching and research. The GPR uses either 250mhz, 500mhz or 800mz shielded single-channel antenna and can be deployed in either sled or cart configurations. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) utilises electromagnetic waves to identify changes in substrate below the ground surface – from natural variations in soil type and geology to changes caused by human activity. The electromagnetic waves are emitted from the antenna which reflect off the subsurface back to the ground surface, and are received by a separate antenna. By comparing the amount of time it takes for the waves to be received by the instrument and the soil characteristics, the approximate depth of any anomalies can be determined. GPR is the most common geophysical technique used for the detection of buried human remains, particularly in forensic searches, as an intensive survey produces high-resolution 3-dimensional data. However, the technique is often used more widely in archaeological research projects to help characterise buried deposits identified using other geophysical techniques.
MALÅ Ramac X3M Ground Penetrating Radar system being used at Wytch Farm
MALÅ Ramac X3M Ground Penetrating Radar system
Electromagnetic induction (EMI)
Electromagnetic induction instruments rely on changes in the conductivity and physical characteristics of subsurface material. The department has 2 EMI instrument – a Geonics EM38 and a CMD Mini Explorer. These instruments use transmitting and receiving coil(s) to generate, and measure changes, in magnetic fields to measure the apparent magnetic susceptibility and resistivity or conductivity of materials. EMI is used in archaeogeophysical surveys, alongside other geophysical techniques, to identify large archaeological features such as ditches or building foundations. BU also use instruments which allow for survey at multiple depths and real-time GPS-tracked data collection.
Electromagnetic induction instrument being used in Songo Mnara. Tanzania
Electromagnetic induction instrument being used at Wytch Farm
Portable X-ray florescence (pXRF)
Our two Niton XL3t GOLDD+ analysers provide reliable, non-destructive real-time data for geochemical analysis. These handheld portable devices can analyse 30 elements including light elements (from Mg to U). There is a helium purge adapter for increased accuracy of light elements and a portable test-stand for laboratory based analysis. The GOLDD technology provides lowest limits of detection and fastest measurement times. These analysers have a high performance x-ray tube and speed detector. pXRF analysis is used in archaeology for materials analysis such as establishing provenance and composition and well as site survey, for example site prospection.
Portable x-ray fluorescence being used on artefacts at the British Library WISE Festival
Laboratory based pXRF analysis in the Test Stand with helium purge
Portable x-ray fluorescence being used in situ, with helium purge adapter, on midden layers at 20th century abandoned village Al Ma'tan, Jordan