In more than 150 years of fieldwork at Abydos, no accurate, comprehensive map of the site was ever produced — so we’re making one! In 2004, we began building a comprehensive site map and GIS database integrating a wide range of spatial and archaeological data. The database incorporates satellite imagery, on-the-ground mapping, historical maps and archival data, as well as the data derived from modern excavations. It includes not only basic topography and all of the major ancient features, but also the modern dimensions of the site. At the same time, we have established a spatial control network that covers the entirety of the ancient site and its environs, through which “Abydos space” is precisely positioned in global space. This system of tight spatial control over all components of the site will ultimately facilitate the work of all archaeological projects at Abydos, as well as that of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. In time, the Expedition’s survey work will result in the publication of a digital atlas, which will make widely available the first comprehensive map of greater Abydos. Even with the advent of advanced mapping tools, however, detailed scale drawings are still an essential part of archaeological fieldwork, and every field season at Abydos relies on the expertise of our survey team, as well as the artists, photographers, and archaeologists who document every stage of the process. Archaeological documentation means many different things, from mapping and measuring to drawing, tagging, photographing, and even 3D rendering, all of which help to ensure the long-term preservation of excavated material and all data associated with it, including not only objects, features, architecture, and landscapes, but also all of the people and activities associated with work and life in the field as part of the modern context of studying the past.
Text and images © Abydos Archaeology 2019