Detecting Building Archaeology

Building Archaeology FArchaeological studies involve the reconstruction of the course of history by studying structures and fossils that defined a particular era. Building archaeology is a method of ascertaining the age of existing ancient buildings by making physical observations and drawing relevant conclusions from those observations. It is best understood when it is distinguished separately from the standard style of excavations and investigation through modern archaeology altogether. Which is why-

On the one hand, building archaeology involves non-intrusive observation of an existing building while on the other, excavational archaeology involves digging up fossils and processing them to establish the historical era they represent. The non-intrusive nature of building archaeology is an inherent advantage because it preserves the subject matter of the study without breaking it down any further than it appears.

Let’s start with the basic rules

There are a number of factors that inform an obvious viewer of the work that has taken place for many building archaeologists. One of these is the building technique itself. The use of columns in structures for instance is recognized as having been introduced by Greeks and was an advanced concept of the method later adopted by Romans. Another factor is the type of material used in construction. The Greeks mostly used marble or limestone while Romans used concrete in most of their structures.

What can be seen with the naked eye?

The objective of most of these archaeological studies is to establish the history of a building, the impact of various historical events and the general passage of time on the building and to assess its present condition. That information is mostly used to determine what parts of the building require renovation and the sort of renovations that can be carried out without destroying the original structure. For this reason, building archaeology is considered an important part of the conservation of historical monuments because it produces data which later informs further dealings with those monuments.

In order to achieve credible results, building archaeologists therefore invest a lot of time in research and actual observation. The practice demands precision and attention to detail all conducted carefully so as not to destroy the structures being studied because they are often old and fragile. Teamwork is also a key element of building archaeology. The input of engineers, historians and archaeologists is all necessary to assess the history and condition of a building. Building archaeologists will commonly use several techniques to determine the age of a building. For structures made of timber, to the mapping out the thickness of the rings on the timber element can approximate when the trees were felled.

Where modern technology comes in...

The profession has also taken advantage of the advancement of technology by using photography as one of its research methods. Through a process called rectified photography, and every one of the building archaeologists are able to take detailed photographic evidence of relatively flat surfaces such as floors, walls, windows, and even paintings to prove their point. The method produces a sort of detailed drawing of the image taken and building archaeologists are able to use their expertise to assess the condition and develop a historical context for the building. Building archaeologists also employ a method called photogrammetry. This is where photographs, especially aerial photographs are used to project the distance between real structures on the ground. The photographs taken are used to develop a map or a three dimensional model that is then used for archaeological purposes.