Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mapping Again

Lines and labels from the paper map
 overlying the air photo.
This fall, I'm making the site maps from the summer's work.  The purpose of these maps is to show the distribution of structures and features across the site, the areas where our mapping and excavation took place and provide some details of the landscape that the site is located in.  The information for these maps comes from air photos, data recorded with a total station, and paper maps drawn in the field.

This layer has contour lines created from
 elevation data collected on site using a total station.
I'm combining the different sources together in Adobe Illustrator and trying to pull the most relevant and accurate information from each of the different sources into one clear image that represents each site and the work that we did there.  As a bit of a bonus, this year John and Corey figured out the steps to georeference our air photos and paper maps to our total station data in Surfer so that we can drape the photos and maps over a 3D wire frame, so I'll also be able to use some 3D landscapes to put the sites in context.  I'll share some of those as they get done.

I still like making paper maps in the field, although good quality gridded graph paper is getting very hard to find. The local drafting supply shop loves telling me how nobody uses it anymore whenever I try to buy it from them.
 Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. I can just hear "local drafting supply shop" telling you that. To which we all ought to remind them that it is plentiful on the internet... with less judginess. Always, always prefer to do lovely paper maps like that in the field, don't trust total stations not to magically eat the data somehow.

  2. Yes, my most memorable exchanges with "local drafting supply shop" are usually their incredulous expressions and condescending looks when I describe the methods and equipment I'm using. Which is usually followed by barely suppressed joy at not being able to help me. I remember asking about a Magellen GPS there once and almost being shown the door by the butler.

    I'm still skeptical about total stations as well, although ours performed flawlessly this summer. I just don't trust that the data is in there until I see it copied to the computer and displayed on a screen at the end of the day.

    The folks who make the machine don't do a lot to install confidence either. With the software that we were using there is actually a step where you have to choose NOT to delete all your data. I think deleting all the data should be hidden on the other side of a half dozen "ARE YOU SURE?" screens and should not be the default setting during data transfers.


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