Dr. Scott Branting is an archaeologist from the University of Central Florida who has been using unmanned aircraft in the excavation of Kerkenes DaÄŸ, the largest pre-Hellenic site from Asia Minor, in modern day Turkey.
“There’s a couple different areas that are time consuming to do in archeology without the drones. One is planning in all the different remains and buildings and features that you find within a large excavation area. The unmanned vehicles are able to provide an overhead perspective in terms of photography. We can also bring the image in and, using a total station or GPS, we can rectify the photographs and digitize off that a stone-by-stone plan. We can then go back and check that plan in the field, and this process speeds up our planning work enormously.
The other thing we can do is incorporate some of the new photogrammetric techniques to generate 3-D point clouds from the overhead photographs and photographs we take on the ground. With that we can do fairly precise monitoring of standing architecture. We have a large gate, for instance, and we’re using photographs in this to try and monitor structural issues as they develop so that we can do mitigation work to stop the walls from falling over. So those are a couple different ways that using these drones can aid us enormously in our work.”
This is obviously the week for case studies, this time using drones to plan their dig, and also to apply photogrammetric techniques. They’ve been doing it since 2012 – fascinating that they actually started by using tethered balloons in 1993.