Reading Maps

Introduction to Archaeology


One of the key tasks in archaeology is localization and mapping. Maps are necessary for understanding an area under investigation, for the localization of discovered sites, and for the rediscovery of reported sites. This module is designed to teach some of the basics. 
Reading the Legend: Legends can usually be found along the lower portion of a map, or alternatively along its margins. Legends contain important information for understanding the map at hand.

Note the Legend on the map provided in class. What kind of information is provided on the legend of this map of the Kalamazoo area?


Two and Three dimensional maps : Some maps (often road maps) depict the surface as two dimensional. However, some maps show the topography, the dimension of height. These maps are called topographical maps. These maps illustrate the topography through a series of lines. These lines represent heights above sea level or a set point. Some of the lines have the height above sea-level written on them. If the lines are more closely stacked at one point, as compared with another, it suggests that incline is steeper. Topographic maps allow you to envision the actual topography of a specific area. Note the map given to you. Several points are noted. What is the topographical situation in each one of those areas? Describe the area. Note the various symbols. What can you say about these areas?

Localizing Sites and Determining Distances: Drawing sites at their correct location once they are discovered is important for the entire archaeological exercise. This is done in several different ways. It can be done through the use of Global Positioning Systems, use of surveying equipment (theodolite) or simple triangulation. Triangulation is also a good way to locate yourself in the woods.

Triangulation: In this case we have taken several readings from a site to various monuments. You will be given the readings. Using your map and a protractor localize yourself. Discover the point from which you were taking those readings. Then use the scales to discover how far you are from the nearest city.


Drawing a Sketch Map: The class will be broken into four groups. You will be shown a "site". You are to draw a sketch map of the site. Draw the site so that someone who was not with you today could find it. Use the "pacing" method to get scale.

How to Draw Sketch Map:
1)Determine Scale 2)Determine North 3)Select major landmarks 4)Select a datum point (from which you might take other measurements) 5)measure landmarks (in this case largely using the pace method) 6) record date and initials 7)use symbols to show landmarks 8) make legend and label symbols
What You Will Need:
1)graph paper 2)pencil 3)ruler 4)compass 5)measuring tape (if you don't have tape use pace method) 6)a protractor


An Example of a Sketch Map


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