Applying Spatial Reference to the Late Antique Settlement at Stobi, Republic of North Macedonia

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Tosheski, Kristijan
GIS , Georeferencing , Late Antiquity , Documentation
The archaeological site of Stobi is located in the Vardar Valley (Повадарие) region in the vicinity of the village Gradsko, Republic of North Macedonia. It is located on the confluence of Vardar River (Axios) and Crna River (Erigon), which were important trade routes in communication with the north along via Axia, and in communication with the East and West along via Egnatia. With the formation of the National Institution Stobi in 2008, massive excavations began at the site with the focus to uncover as much data as possible. One of these excavation projects was on the upper north-west terrace, next to the Late Antique gate of the ancient city. The area excavated in the following two years exceeded 2500 square meters, and what was uncovered came to be known as the Late Antique Settlement. During the excavation project, a series of technical drawings were prepared for the uncovered archaeological layers. These technical drawings were done on drafting paper at a scale of 1:50, and the features were positioned using the grid network with measuring tapes and plumb-bobs. Fortunately, the grid network was well established before the excavations so the general placement of streets, walls and artifacts proved to be correct. However other problems occurred with the drafting of the plans. First, discerning the features of the Late Antique Settlement due to high vegetation has made integrating the Late Antique Settlement into the general plan of Stobi difficult. The general plan of Stobi is now subject to annual revision using UAV, photogrammetry, GNSS and total station surveying to reposition features and add newly excavated features. Second, the existing paper plan of the Late Antique Settlement has been digitized without spatial reference and it is not clear what is the accuracy of these technical drawings. Assessments of other drawings in the general plan have shown high levels of inaccuracy. This project addresses the problems of applying spatial reference to hand-drawings in general and proposes a solution that combines total station surveying, UAV, orthophotos and georeferencing in GIS.
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