Grid-survey module in action. Image by Adela Sobotkova. CC-BY-SA 2020.

Notes from the Field!

Perachora project puts FAIMS Mobile to test.. and it shines

Macquarie University team of archaeologists use FAIMS to record the environs of Heraion sanctuary in Greece

Macquarie University team of archaeologists and students spent January in Greece surveying the ancient sanctuary of Hera and its environs using FAIMS Mobile platform. The Perachora Peninsula Archaeological Project (PPAP) led by Susan Lupack of Macquarie University in collaboration with Panagiota Kasimi, the Ephor of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Corinth, aims to map the standing features around the photogenic site and explore the past human activity in the peninsula throught the long-term. Joined by Shawn Ross and 15 students, and an Aarhus team of Adela Sobotkova and Petra Janouchova, the participants used two FAIMS modules to record surface artefacts densities and standing features and photogrammetry to make digital models of the best preserved structures. With the help of Feature recording module, an on-the-spot assembled variation of TRAP burial module, the students followed historical maps of the Heraion environs and recorded 108 standing walls, masonry structures, tombs, roads, cisterns and shafts. With the grid-survey module, they scrambled through forests, olive groves and scrubby cliffs at 5 m intervals to document 16 ha of terrain within the ancient site, documenting a total of 22,817 artefacts.

Each team used the k1 Shield Nvidia Android tablet with bluetooth GPS to document archaeological realities. The grid-survey module allowed them to document the density of 12 different classes of artefacts at 5 by 5 m spatial granularity, an ideal setup for high-intensity urban-level survey in artefact-rich areas. All teams kept also a paper back up with handheld GPSs and DSLR cameras to ensure redundancy. The progress was slow due both to vegetation and high density of artefacts, but it was rewarded by gorgeous views, painted pottery, and the simple pleasure of downloading clean, complete and automatically labelled data at the end of the day. Thanks to the low-power FAIMS server kit and technical skills among the team, the sporadic electricity and nonexistent internet were no show-stoppers.

All in all, Petra and Adela were thrilled as the modules exceeded their expectations. Students learnt that no bushes can stop them and grew stronger thanks to the steep learning curve (for their reflections see their blog). Even photogrammetry under Shawn’s direction produced fantastic results despite technical challenges.

We are ready for the next season!