Do you have a dream of becoming an archaeologist? Want to be the person excavating your favorite ancient site, sifting through dirt and debris to uncover the secrets of our past? While this may sound like a lot of fun, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. You’ll need to become very familiar with archaeological site surveys if you want to successfully find and excavate sites that have never been touched before by modern civilization. Read on for some helpful tips on how to do an archaeological site survey properly!

Planning and Theory

In order to carry out an archaeological site survey, the first step is to develop a research question. Once you have a question in mind, you can begin to look for answers in historical literature and previous works. Once you have a good understanding of the area, you can start to plan your survey. There are a number of different methods that can be used, including drills, photography, photogrammetry, remote sensing, and aerial surveys. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your project. After you’ve collected your data, it’s time to analyze it. This is where the real work of archaeology begins!

Exploring archaeological and heritage site in Mizoram (Archaeological site survey)
Exploring archaeological and heritage site in Mizoram

Local Tradition

Every archaeological site is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, there are some basic steps that all archaeologists follow when conducting a survey. First, they become familiar with the local tradition. This means learning about the history of the area and the people who live there. Second, they research the area. This includes looking at maps and other historical records. Third, they visit the site. This allows them to get a feel for the land and see what features are present. Fourth, they conduct a field investigation. This involves using tools like GPS and GIS to map the area and identify potential sites. Fifth, they analyze their data.

Local people know the legends and oral history of the site best.
Local people know the legends and oral history of the site best.

Surface Collection and Test Pits

The first step in conducting an archaeological site survey is to collect surface data. This can be done through a process of walking over the area and looking for artifacts, or by using SCIENTIFIC AIDS IN EXPLORATION, such as metal detectors or ground-penetrating radar. Once surface data has been collected, the next step is to excavate test pits. This will help you to get a better understanding of the layout of the site and the type of artifacts that are buried there. Ethnographic data can also be useful at this stage, as it can help you to understand the cultural context in which the site was used.

On surface survey and collection of potsherds (Archaeological site survey)
On surface survey and collection of potsherds and pieces of bangles

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

Ground Penetrating Radar is a type of remote sensing that uses electromagnetic waves to image the subsurface. It can be used to detect buried features, such as foundations, graves, and utilities. GPR can also be used to locate archaeological sites that are not visible on the surface.


A common surveying method for archaeologists is photogrammetry, which is the process of taking measurements from photographs. This method is often used in conjunction with other methods, such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR) or LiDAR (light detection and ranging). LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that uses laser pulses to create a three-dimensional map of an area. It can be used to survey large areas quickly and can provide information on features that are not visible from the ground, such as buried archaeological sites.

LiDAR and Archaeology (Archaeological site survey)
LiDAR and Archaeology


A technique that uses a magnetometer to measure and map magnetic fields, which can be used to locate buried features. This method is often used in conjunction with other geophysical techniques, like ground-penetrating radar (GPR).

Crop Marks

Aerial photographs are often the best way to spot potential archaeological sites. Look for linear marks in the landscape, which may indicate boundaries or ditches. Soilmarks, such as changes in color or texture, can also be indicative of buried features. If you see anything suspicious, mark it on a map and investigate further on foot.

Anatomy of Cropmark (Archaeological site survey)
Anatomy of Cropmark

Under Water Survey

Under water archaeological site surveys are conducted using a variety of techniques, including side-scan sonar, sub-bottom profiling, and magnetometry. The type of survey used depends on the environment in which the site is located and the specific goals of the survey.

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