In this post I will be discussing drone application in archaeology, relevant to our upcoming lecture on October 16th. After seeing the drone used first hand at an archaeological site in Peru, I’ve become very interested in its application and how it changes archaeology. The drone work provides a none invasive or destructive way of analyzing an archaeological site at a large scale.
Drones can use LiDAR, thermal imagery, aerial camera, GPS, and much more up and coming technology useful in the field of archaeology. Drones have become popular in exploratory aerial surveying to locate or map sites. This technique is becoming popular due to the destructive and unrepeatable process of excavation – by using drones a significant amount of information can be collected from an archaeological site without excavation. Complete compounds can be mapped and located without moving any dirt. However, this brings about questions we have discussed in class, such as the issues of the accelerated pace of archaeology. Does studying a site at a large scale diminish the importance of the excavation and the smaller details of the site? Or does it add a new level of knowledge to the field? Personally, I see the drone work as complementary to excavation - not replacing it but adding to it. By having the large-scale knowledge in combination with the finer details of an excavation, the data set and thus interpretations of the site become more holistic and inclusive, creating a larger but still accurate picture of the site.
Campana (2017) discusses how digital cameras attached to drones are used in the production of 3D models and maps. However, Campana (2017) also comments on how drones can be used to monitor a site and its landscape. An example of this can be seen in the following natural geographic article where a drone is used in Jordan to combat the looting at a Dead Sea archaeological site.
It is evident that drone work has much to offer to the field of archaeology, however there are still limitations and questions, as there is with any archaeological technique. With drone use becoming more popular, both leisurely and in the field of archaeology, do you perceive any issues that will arise in the public eye with the use of drone work? Do you think that studying an archaeological site from such a large scale diminishes the importance of excavation or the finer details of a site?