From the dirt to the computer by İpek Kırömeroğlu
Many people think that an excavation is all about finding something precious and that every archaeologist is kind of a treasure hunter. This actually is not a true explanation nor a good idea about what archaeology is and what archaeologists do in real life. Archaeologists follow a set of very precise steps during an excavation, in order to develop a better understanding of their site/building/context. However, all of these steps can be only learned by practicing them in the field. It is a bit like learning a new language, at some point you need to confront yourself with real life practice! That is also why the very first excavation you attend to is so important and unforgettable. Labraunda is my first excavation!
|Me taking point using the Total Station|
Before telling you my experiences during the excavation, let me explain why I chose this site as a starting point in my career. Labraunda is a very much ‘Classical’ site, and even though I have been planning to focus on prehistoric and neolithic contexts, it seems that Labraunda has a very interesting architectural and cultural texture together with a profound historical background. It is one of the rare places where one can experience the combination of both local Anatolian Karian and Greek classical cultures. So, I thought it could be a great chance for me to improve my interpretation skills and to develop a deeper knowledge of how different cultural could joint and complete each other.
In my first day at the excavation, I washed ceramic remains and learned how to categorize them according to their context (this is one of the main activities on-site!). Anna (Sitz, responsible for the trench around the Tetraconchos) was very helpful and taught me how to recognize the features of different ceramic fragments. The next day, Olivier Henry, head of the excavations, started the study of an impressive building. Located at the entrance of the site, it still has its three stories although they are in a bad shape. We started the study by using a total station and retrieve coordinates according to specific locations on the site. We started to work on a general layout of the building. This total station can use both laser and infra-red measurements. For the infra-red, I learned how the reflector should be placed, and how important is the point you will be choosing for the later treatment of the data. You must be sure that the reflector should be placed the peak point on the rock or whatever the location you are measuring.
|Taking points on the edge of the wall|
We recorded coordination codes of each point we defined on the construction and gave each point a number. Then, we decided to use a second documentation technique in order to complete the total station points. That is aerial photogrammetry. I wrote each point number on a target paper and sticked them on the site with patafix or nail according to their location. The aim was to take a number of pictures (233 in this case) with a drone, and use the know points and their coordinate in order to realign all the pictures into on single ortho photography. This allows us then to produce a 3D model of the building, with a precision of 5 mm per pixel! The difficulty for me was to place the target points on the building plan. Although I might have done lots of mistakes while determine target points on the real zone, because I mixed most of the coordinates codes with their current places on the area, I tried thousands of time to find their correct place on the map. At the end of the day, after spending nearly four hours on the area, I sticked all of them to their correct places. The whole process was struggling for me but I learned how to read a building plan on a map and to determine target points in a correct way.
I also worked with Elisabeth (Goussard, responsible for the study of metallic objects) and Çağla (Durak, also student at Bilkent) to help them while they were trying to make a 3D reconstruction of some metal objects. First, we need to take photos of the object from different perspectives in a circular rotation with a 45 degree from the camera point but the light should be very well balanced in order to get all details of the object.
Second, all of these photos are
transformed into the computer database and then they are all matched with each
other by a program (Agisoft) to get a whole reconstruction of the material.
This also enable archaeologists to see some unseen details on the surface of
|Taking pictures of the 'Labrys' weight|
|The model of the 'Labrys' weight|
I also worked on establishing a list for coins different in size in order to define their material types, shapes, details on the surface and then transferred all of the information into the computer. All of these make a unique experience for me. It helped me understanding what is happening in an excavation. Right now, I really understand that an excavation is not about just finding something mysterious or fancy in a trench for adding them to a museum collection. Archaeology includes lots of different complex contexts and it has a very large era that contains both ‘hard’ science and human science. My goal was to find out and use all of the different aspect of the activities on the field. Labraunda and its precious international team has prepared a very good started point for me, which I will never forget through my future archaeology adventures.