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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Drafting Maps

It seems like forever since we completed the Karluk River survey back in June. The archaeological survey itself was only 14 days long, but it has taken me all summer long to process all the data we collected. And I am still no where near done. I've completed the artifact and sample catalogue and all the artifacts have pretty little numbers on them that reference their place in the catalogue. We've also picked all the charcoal out of the samples we want to send off for radiocarbon analysis. Now we just need the money to pay for the analysis. But I still do have to write up a description for every site we found or visited (all 42 of them), and I still have to finish drafting up the maps of all the sites we found. And eventually, sometime next spring, we'll put it all together into a report and be done.

Last year we mapped 478 house depressions - the most we have ever mapped in a single year's survey - and so it is taking an extra long time to draft all the maps. In the field I created a sketch map of every site in my field notebook and then used a transit to record the various distances and angles between points. Back at the museum I have been using a compass rose and ruler to translate all this data onto graph paper. What you see above is a portion of the field map top, and then the same portion after it has been drafted onto graph paper. Because I do it by hand it is a fairly laborious process.

I also think doing it by hand harkens back to the Stone Age, or, at least, back to the 1980s anyway. Today, most archaeologists use drafting programs on a computer to generate their maps. And in the future I think we will be doing this too. But this is the way we started out doing it 10 years ago when we first started our big river surveys. And to be consistent we decided to keep doing it the same way. With the Karluk River survey complete we have now finished with our survey of all Kodiak's big rivers, and since we did them all the same way - the data is all comparable. It is an excellent data set (all the house and site data is also in an Excel spreadsheet).

Nonetheless, the next time we map a big site I can guarantee you we will be doing the maps differently!


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