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Archaeologists Use a Drone and a Dog to Map a Dig

By: Angela Lee

In Sweden, Kalmar County Museum archaeologists Nicholas Nilsson and Fredrik Gunnarsson used Esri technology to unearth a moment frozen in time.  Using data captured by a drone, a web app, and a dog with a keen sense of smell, the archaeologists mapped a fort and its houses as well as the violent fate of the people who lived there.

In the 5th century AD during Europe’s turbulent Migration Period, on the island of Öland off the coast of Sweden many ring forts were constructed, mainly as a places of refuge during times of war.  Many gold artifacts have been found on the island, including gold coins given to islanders for serving as mercenaries in the Roman army.  The area surrounding the Sandby Borg ring fort had an unusually high concentration of these gold coins.

Concentration of gold coins (solidi) on Öland, Sweden

In 2010, locals alerted the Kalmar County Museum that the Sandby Borg ring fort was being looted.  The Museum conducted a metal detector survey in order to save any remaining artifacts.  They found some amazing items, including jewelry caches containing large gilded brooches.  Why would these items be left behind?  Because of this mystery, the Museum began excavating Sandby Borg.

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