Archaeology may seem fun especially when you think about how much history has been discovered and recorded within the last few decades. However, the truth is that before any major discovery is made, the archaeologist spends countless hours surveying the land and digging through dirt. Were it not for archaeological tools, any archaeological work would be virtually impossible.
When it comes to the latest in archaeological tools, nothing much has changed except for the use of drones for surveying the land. In the 1970s aerial pictures were helpful for surveying areas, especially those that had thick vegetation. But aerial surveys are expensive and were mostly done through satellites and/or helicopters, which are expensive to do without adequate funding.
But all this is beginning to change with drones. A drone, also known as unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV can be used to hold a thermal imaging camera to identify historical features hidden up half-meter below ground. Drones are not cheap, however, between them and satellite imaging, there is a big difference in the price.
The results of the ground imaging are collated to produce a thermal map of an area.
You will be surprised at how much data can be revealed when you use a high-tech drone. There was an archaeologist who was able to outline the details of one village about 1,000 years of age, with structures which had never been seen before, and which might have taken ten years of labor to be discovered the traditional way. The results demonstrated unknown architecture and kivas or circular ceremonial structures.
Drones are more accurate tools aerial imaging because they can cover large areas under an array of wind and climate conditions, all within a fixed altitude and speed. These abilities are crucial because there’s only a brief window of your time to capture imagery.
Of course, drones and areal imaging are only one in the cache of tools that archaeologists need in order to do their job properly. The traditional tools are still being used, however, modern archaeologists are using upgraded versions of these tools.
The most legendary and most used of these traditional tools is the trowel. A trowel looks like a mini shovel and it’s used to take out earth and debris where shovels can’t. Archaeologists are actually divided between a pointed or square-ended trowel, although the winning argument always favors personal choice.
Shovels are another frequently-used tool. They are used because they move more soil in a shorter time, compared to when you are using a trowel.
Screens are also traditional tools that are still being used today. They are utilized to sift the soil for any items of archaeological interest.
Hand brooms and dustpans are another set of tools that are needed in the trade. Brooms help with keeping the “floor” of an archaeological unit clean, especially before an image is taken from it. Dustpans move the soil when archaeologists have started using their trowels. Soil could be shoved to the dustpan then poured into a bucket.