Surveying of the archeological area of Tukh al Qaramus in Egypt

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Topographer Maurizio FoderĂ 
Survey director
Studio di Topografia Applicata FoderĂ 

INFORMATION

Company:
Studio di Topografia Applicata FoderĂ 
Via Antonio Segni, 78
91026 - Mazara del Vallo (TP)
ITALY

Tel: +39 0923 945106
Fax: +39 0923 934892
E-mail: info@studiotopografia.it
Web: www.studiotopografia.it

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Surveying of the archeological area of Tukh al Qaramus in Egypt

The survey conducted during February-March 2006, during an excavation campaign, was designed for a contour lines mapping representation of the entire site at 1:1,000 scale, and to also allow the identification of the existing structures already brought to light.

Company description

“Studio di topografia applicata Foderà” started up in Mazara del Vallo (Trapani - Sicily) in 1995 as a result of the evolution of Studio Tecnico Foderà, operating on the territory since 1961, in the fields of construction, land, topography, etc.. Nowadays, areas of the Studio have expanded, remaining well-advanced and updated with the continuous technological development. The “Studio di topografia Applicata Foderà” practice is able to offer innovative solutions and expertise in the field of Surveying, Photogrammetry and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and is aimed at all those users, public and private, operating in the field of Engineering, Architecture, Town Planning and land management in general, and are in need of services and technologically advanced products. “Studio di topografia applicata Foderà” collaborates with companies that produce softwares and hardwares that are nowadays among the best on the market.

The project

Tell Tukh Qaramus is located in Egypt. The term, Tell, indicates the “hills” created in the course of the millennia as a result of the overlapping of the ruins of earlier settlements, which characterize the geomorphologic configuration. The project was set taking into account the requirements related to the subsequent phases of detection of the wall structures brought to light. It was necessary to establish a topographic network to ensure the survey framing, a set of points which refer to the object and support any subnets that are progressively closer to the shape of the object, for further support to more detailed survey. The points were positioned so as to facilitate the connections of the detailed survey of the individual areas of excavation. The network, today, consists of 12 points: a fixed point which had already been materialized by others, for the establishment of a regional GPS network; 8 materialized in 2006 and 3 in 2004, all located on the ground in a solid and permanent way, so as not to be subject to variations or damages. All points (except the 3 reported in 2004 that were dug into the ground), were made from iron pipes cemented into the ground. The fixed point was taken as the planimetric and altimetric origin of the local reference system. The survey operations involved an area which covered a surface of about 10 hectares. The first step was to measure the placement points. Taking a reading of the horizontal and vertical angles, supplemented with a reading of the distances, a three-dimensional grid of points was built, and strategically placed to be used in later phases. Working in a small geographical area the calculation has been simplified by using a local reference system, ie a system on which on a point of origin of the axes and its orientation is arbitrarily decided. The local coordinates are easier to handle and allow you to work with measurements of distance comparable to those direct. The geographical coordinates (WGS 84) and Plain coordinates (UTM-WGS84) were measured using the GPS receiver to be able to store the location of the points. In a following surveying, thanks to a feature called “GOTO” the receiver guides the user from any position to the point memorized earlier. The equidistance of the points of the mesh was made with a metal band made of steel extended between points of alignment materialized on the spot. Each point was then topographically surveyed for polar coordinates. The alignments materialized on site made it possible for the field survey assistant to create a mesh as regular as possible. The points surveyed were referred to the general network system. The surveyed points were 522, more than 666 which define the existing wall structures brought to light in the past campaign, which were surveyed in their contours and in their altimetric position. Such survey, which will be completed in the course of the future excavation campaigns, includes the measures, the topographic positions and a complete set of photographs of every single emerging wall structure. This work means to, above all, document the actual state of conservation of the wall structures that, even though slowly, are disappearing caused by the atmospheric agents. The survey was always effected by polar coordinates and referred to the general frame network. Now and then a whole series of stations were materialized in a position which resulted in good visibility compared to the single areas to survey. This procedure resulted particularly quick and efficient with the survey of more isolated areas; this followed by proceeding to calculate the position of the station point connecting it to the network. The data surveyed were the azimuthal and zenithal angles, the inclined distance, the instrumental and prism height. These data are then useful to calculate the Cartesian coordinates (x, y) and to calculate the quota/elevation (z). New areas of excavation were surveyed by using the grid system. The selected area was divided into squares of 5x5 m. The vertexes were created with iron nails and the sides of the squares were evidenced on the ground connecting the vertexes with cords. The grid was made using the total station that allowed, with respect to level, to aim directly at ground point, in addition, the distance meter has permitted to determining of the distances between the vertexes without resorting to direct measurements. So the vertexes of the grid were included in the topographic network, already prepared, surveying through polar coordinates the same vertexes. Therefore the vertexes of the division of squares inserted into the already set up topographic frame revealing the vertexes themselves through polars coordinate. The distances between the vertexes of the squares serve as bases measured for the survey. Every day at the end of the excavation operations, a planimetric survey of the new stratographic unit was done and with an optical level all the relative readings at the new excavation area were surveyed. The coordinates of points measured from the various stations were then used graphically to restitute the planimetry of the site. The curves of level were gained by automatic form with the topographic software Topko from the mesh of quoted points distributed on the survey surface of 15 ha.

Technical difficulties

The “Studio di Topografia Applicata Foderà” was asked to do the topographic survey of the archeological site of Tukh Al Qaramus only in 2006 as the continuation of a previous campaign of recognition and surveys done in 2004, unfortunately were not immediately object of elaboration, but remained in a drawer for about two years as campaign books in ASCII format with the main part of points surveyed without point codes or description. At the time of organizing the survey project in 2006, we found ourselves with this myriad of beaten points and a series of double orthogonal maps where there were points marked. The fact of not having elaborated the surveys immediately and to have treated measurements and above all interpretate the double orthogonal maps drafted by others without ever being used on site created quite a few problems. The use of Topko and its graphic environment has permitted in a very simple and versatile way to read the surveys carried out in 2004 and then to integrate them with the surveys that were gradually done in 2006.

Alcuni numeri del progetto


  • Surveyed area: 15 Ha
  • Network points: 12
  • Xyz Points: 522
  • Wall structures points: 666

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Some pictures of the work

Overview of the site

Overview of the site

Working moments: dig and survey

Working moments: dig and survey

Working moments: survey

Working moments: survey

Topographic network

Topographic network

The surveyed area

The surveyed area

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