© System Source

Archaeological Field Mapping System

Ray-O-Vac flashlight body, wires, metal boxes, sonar, motherboard
Bob Roswell
Second to computing, archaeology has been Bob Roswell’s second love and when he was in school, around 1972, he was in an archaeology class, learning how to map out and measure objects on a dig. This process is tedious and takes a good amount of time to undergo. It entails using an elevation map of the excavation area, gridded out with a number of reference points marked by metal stakes in the ground. When an object is found a pin or a thin pole is place at its exact location and a measuring tape is hiked from there to the closest reference point. A compass is used to determine the angle at the object’s location is to the reference point. Then these are placed on the map and could copied to the computer later. And keep in mind, these maps are made for all the excavation levels of the dig.

Seeing how time-consuming this process is, Bob decided to create a system that would make this much faster and accurate as a senior project. The system he devised starts with an old Ray-O-Vac model no. L295 flashlight converted with a switch and some wires that when you press a button a loud spark would sound. You would do this at the exact location at which an object was found and then the sound would travel to 4 small metal boxes equipped with sonar that would receive the sound. These boxes would be place in a few places around the place at which the object was found at varying distances. By wires the small boxes are connected to larger box with a motherboard that would convert the sound into data, recording the time it took for the sound to get from the object location to the sonar boxes. This data would be transmitted to a computer, put through a program which would simply apply the distance = rate times time (d=rt) to the data and record the point on the grid. This whole process would only take a few moments compared the old laborious process. Again, something that would normally require intense measuring by hand now would take minutes with a push of a button.