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Centimeter-Level Recording for All: Field Experimentation with New, Affordable Geolocation Technology

  • Peter J. Cobb (a1), Tiffany Earley-Spadoni (a2) and Philip Dames (a3)

Abstract

The methodical recording and representation of spatial data are central to archaeological fieldwork and research. Until recently, centimeter-level precise geolocation equipment was the exclusive domain of researchers who could afford setups costing tens of thousands of dollars. However, high-quality measurements are being made more accessible by rapidly evolving technologies. These new tools, when used together with mobile technology for efficiently recording field data, open up the possibility of capturing the precise location of every find during an archaeological surface survey. An important step in reaching the desired outcome—centimeter-level recording for all—is experimentation with a variety of emerging low-cost setups. Accordingly, we tested the Reach and Reach RS, differential global navigation satellite systems (dGNSS) equipment produced by the company Emlid, during a surface survey in Armenia in June 2018. Our field application demonstrates that the use of dGNSS is already possible and that the described advances in precision enable improved recording and representation of spatial data.

El registro y la representación sistemático de datos espaciales son fundamentales para el trabajo de campo y la investigación arqueológicos. Hasta hace poco, el equipo de geolocalización de precisión en centímetros era de dominio exclusivo para los investigadores que podían costearse herramientas de decenas de miles de dólares. Sin embargo, el área se está acercando rápidamente a un momento en que las mediciones de alta calidad se harán más accesibles mediante tecnologías de rápida evolución. Cuando se usan junto con la tecnología móvil para registrar datos de campo de manera eficiente, esto abre la posibilidad de capturar la ubicación precisa de cada hallazgo durante un examen de la superficie arqueológica. Un paso importante para alcanzar el resultado deseado—el registro a nivel de centímetros para todos—es la experimentación realizada por investigadores con una variedad de equipos emergentes de bajo costo. Por consiguiente, probamos el Reach y Reach RS, el equipo diferencial GNSS producido por la empresa Emlid, durante un reciente estudio de superficie en Armenia en junio de 2018, e informamos de nuestros resultados aquí. Concluimos que, incluso con algunos desafíos, nuestra aplicación de campo demuestra que el dGNSS asequible ya es posible, y que los avances descritos en la precisión permitirán un mejor registro y representación de los datos espaciales.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

(pcobb@hku.hk, corresponding author)

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