Drawing Plan Views

By Jaimie Carter

Over the course of this field school, I have learned the multiple steps it takes to complete a project. From the initial measuring and stringing of the unit to shoveling and troweling, it is a lengthy process that needs time to ensure it is completed properly. Of these aspects, I have come to love one particular aspect more than the others: drawing archaeological plans. In order to properly display exactly what is happening within your unit, you have to record all the artifacts and features that are present in a level, on the floor of your unit. Drawing plan views is a team effort because while one person is sketching and recording, their teammates are using measuring tapes and a plumb bob in order to tell them the precise location of the artifacts and features present.

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Our unit team drawing a plan view. L to R: Shelby, Adam (standing), Jaimie (the author, seated and drawing), and David. 

This process requires a delicate hand and large amounts of patience because sometimes you will have to do hours of sketching, which I have learned in sketching a 1 x 6 unit, 5 centimeters at a time. In the end, you and your team have an extremely detailed and intricate map of your level and unit, making the attention to detail and hours placed into the plan worth it, because you have a nearly perfect reconstruction of all of your hard work and effort. To permanently seal its place in the archaeological record, the plan view can be scanned and digitally inked so that even when the pencil fades, there is a record of the unit at that moment in time. I can only hope that the plan view that I completed for my unit will only add to our understanding of this amazing site and the way of life of its previous occupants.


Plan of 2016 excavation units (XUs) 1 and 6. It shows a concentration of artifact east of a hearth feature in a probable structure.


Close-up of a section of the same plan view drawing

About Dr. Jennifer Birch

I am an archaeologist who specializes in the Archaeology of Eastern North America. Conceptually, my interests are underpinned by the desire to understand how the lived experiences of individuals and communities articulates with long-term, large-scale processes of social and cultural change. My current research is concerned with the development of organizational complexity and diversity in eastern North America. Ongoing projects in Northeastern North America include: - Geophysical investigations of Late Precontact Iroquoian Villages - Regional synthesis of data on Iroquoian settlement patterns, including intra-site patterns, interregional interaction, and geopolitical realignment Ongoing projects in Southeastern North America include: - Multi-scalar investigations of the Late Woodland to Mississippian transition in the Deep South - Household and community archaeology at the Singer-Moye site
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2 Responses to Drawing Plan Views

  1. What are the dimensions on that piece of vellum?


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