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Archaeological field recording techniques



During the course, students will practice different field recording techniques, both analogue and digital, that are covered in the lectures of the BA1 course Archaeological methods and techniques.
The Dutch Quality Norm of Archaeology (KNA) will be applied.

This course consists of three parts. The first part of the course will cover basic manual acquisition techniques:


  • Setting up the levelling instrument

  • Transferring a height using a levelling register

  • Measuring and mapping ground level elevation

Manual measuring

  • Types and use of measuring tapes

  • Pole surveying

  • Setting out straight angles

Manual drawing

  • Top-plans and (half) sections to scale

  • Elevation maps

The second part of the course will cover the digital acquisition of archaeological data using a Total Station (TS):

  • Job preparation

  • Methods for setting up the instrument

  • Setting out trenches

  • Measuring points, lines and surfaces

  • Downloading and processing data

  • Visualisation (maps)

In the third part of the course the use of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) will be introduced, and all previously learned techniques will be combined:

  • Introduction to GNSS methods (standalone, Real Time Kinematic, Post Processing)

  • Combining different acquisition techniques

During the course the students will keep a log of their work.

Course objectives

To provide the students with practical knowledge of different archaeological field recording techniques.
After the course, the student will be able to:

  • prepare and execute a basic archaeological measuring project;

  • select and implement appropriate techniques;

  • process and visualise the recorded field data;

  • put the data in a report, in which the used methods are described according to standard norms and justified.


Course schedule details can be found in the propedeuse/first year time schedule.

Group time schedules can be found on BlackBoard.

Mode of instruction

Practical work in groups.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 80 hours of practical work, including instruction (4 ects);

  • Final report of 1,800 words (appendices excluded) (1 ects).

Assessment method

A (weighed) mark will be given for the following course elements:
1. Participation (mandatory) (Failed or Complied);
2. Surface and section drawing, individual (10%);
3. Levelling report, individual (10%);
4. Elevation map, individual (10%);
5. Report and visualisation of TS results, small group (30%);
6. An individual report describing the preparation, execution and results of the final assignment. The report also has to include a motivation for the used methods, a work log, a visualisation of the recorded data, and a field survey form to validate the accuracy of the measurements, individual (40%).

A date for retakes of elements 2-4 will be announced on BlackBoard. For numbers 5 or 6 (not both) there will be one opportunity to improve on the report if necessary, element 1 cannot be retaken because participation is mandatory.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

Will be made available on BlackBoard.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.


For more information about his course, please contact dhr. ing. E.G.C. Dullaart.


This course has two versions: one taught in Dutch, the other taught in English.