ArchTool 4 – Monopod & Shovel Test Pit Stratigraphy

Shovel Test Pit Stratigraphy

We are all familiar with setting up a test dig.  Lots and lots of post holes and weighting and counting artifacts and establishing minimum vessel counts.  But on my first test dig site I noticed something interesting.  We were doing a lot of digging but there was no way to see the stratigraphy of the ground below us…until…An idea occurred to me.  What if I could figure out a way to see the sides of the hole.

Fig. 1 shows a typical wall shot in a pit.


Fig. 1

Fig. 2 is a high resolution photo mosaic of the same wall used as a teaching tool.  This image was constructed from 18 scaled 14.4 MP photos.  (The resolution, approximately 200 MP, is greatly reduced for the website.)

West Wall Touch Up Final

Fig. 2  Excavation in Detroit’s Corktown, back of a Workers Row House, c Mid 19th Century

Fig. 3 is a high resolution photo mosaic of a post hole test pit.  Notice the inset hole-shot photo in Fig. 3.  This is often all you would see of a 30 to 40 cm diameter test pit.  However the main image is a scaled high resolution composite of the inside of the hole.  Fig. 4 & 5 are additional examples.  Camera:  Canon Powershot G10, 14.4 MP.  (This is my down-in-the-dirt camera.)

Meyer E5N12_Panorama1_edited-2

Fig. 3 Illustrates the difference between a stratigraphy shot composite and a simple shovel test pit (inset).


Fig. 4

E5-N10 Hurttienne_Panorama1_edited-1

Fig. 5

The following figures illustrate how to take post hole shots for stratigraphy.



Fig. 6 Monopod Setup


Fig. 7 First Photo Level


Fig. 8 Second Photo Level


Fig. 9 Third Photo Level


Fig. 10 Fourth Photo Level


Fig. 11 Fifth Photo Level

(Leaping tarantula added for my good friends Brenna and Sam whose first encounters with tarantula will never be forgotten!)

More Coming Soon

Site under construction


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