Fieldwork: Geographic Survey
by Steve Wilkes, Time Team Surveyor
Like all modern archaeological projects, Time Team America's investigations are founded upon good mapping practices. Accurately recording the locations of all the team's activities — including trenches, features, small finds and geophysical survey grids — is an important element of the on-site work. This enables the results of all the different surveys to be related together to help answer Time Team America's questions. Just as importantly, it also allows our findings to be integrated with any previous work or to enable future researchers to come back and further the investigation.
When visiting sites that already have established survey recording it is important to ensure that any work we do fits in to this. Before any work takes place on site, the team talks to the project archaeologists to establish what co-ordinate system is being used for the survey control (such as UTM WGS84) and whether there are any special requirements specific to that site. Then, using a combination of equipment such as highly accurate GPS units, Total Stations, and 3D laser scanners, Time Team America can supply all its information in a form that accurately relates to the existing work.
When investigating an entirely new site, the decision on what co-ordinate system to use is taken in conjunction with State Archaeologists and representatives on site to ensure that any future projects can easily return to continue the investigations.
By applying good survey practices, Time Team America ensures that any of its discoveries are properly documented so that, after the TV cameras have stopped rolling, the investigation into our collective heritage can continue.