Archaeology & Historic Preservation


Maryland is a region rich in US history. As a Baltimore area based company, Elevated Element has had the honor of working on a number of projects in the fields of archaeology and historic preservation and mitigation. Unmanned aerial vehicles UAVs, or drones, have proven to be a valuable tool for historic preservationists and archaeologists who need to meet tight deadlines and budgetary constraints. Compared to other traditional site overview, documentation, monitoring and ground-truthing methods including total stations, UAVs are able to fly a variety of sensors to complete needed tasks with unmatched levels of efficiency. Drones can save a substantial amount of time and money that can be used for other needed resources to further enhance existing projects, or make it possible to take on new projects in need of documentation.  

Aerial services that Elevated Element has provided in historic and archaeological efforts include:

Aerial Photography

The bird’s eye perspective coupled with a very high resolution allows viewers the ability to quickly and easily see a land segment or historic structure in context. There is no better way to see all of the physical features of a landscape or architecture subject than with aerial photography. Our flying cameras capture high resolution images that are extremely sharp, which allows one to zoom in on small details within the pictorial space. Photos may also be annotated to identify key features. Whether shooting from four or four hundred feet, we are able to place our cameras in virtually any position to capture any desired angle or perspective. This is ideal for thorough site documentation, mitigation, planning and comparison purposes.

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Aerial Mapping

Elevated Element has the ability to use a variety of different types of aircraft to create maps of small land parcels or those that cover thousands of acres. An array of images is captured and processed into one large map file. Important areas can be zoomed in on showing startling details. Aerial mapping is a great way to document large sites or assist with searching for areas of particular historic interest. Drone mapping is superior to satellite maps, because the images are up-to-date, can be replicated and the resolution is much higher to see those details. Areas can be labeled, and an interactive web tool can even be developed to efficiently access, search and share the map and key features.

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3D Scanning

Three-dimensional data can be captured a few ways:  using photogrammetry, LIDAR (laser) scanning or a combination of these methods, both terrestrial and aerial. Over numerous projects and the last several years, Elevated Element has perfected our ability to create 3D models of historic structures, archaeological dig sites and parcels of land. Although we specialize in aerial photogrammetry, we are also honored to wor k with Direct Dimensions, leaders in 3D laser scanning. Combining aerial photogrammetry with ground based LIDAR data creates some of the very best 3D models. This is because the photogrammetry will produced colors and textures that perfectly represents the physical surface of the structure, while the LIDAR produces the most accurate geometry of the form.

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Traditional aerial photos and video can be merged with 3D models to create an incredibly realistic and engaging visualization of what a historic site looked like at a given time in the past. Creating a still or even animated realistic interpretation of a historic site with actual photographs of the location as well as models created with photos of materials and textures from the same period produces imagery that is much more historically accurate. Such a visualization is more believable and leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. Visualizations can also be made with 3D models that are already made and provided to us, which increases speed of production and cuts the cost. However, we take great pride in our ability to create quality visualizations much faster, as well as far less expensive than one might expect.

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Virtual Tours

A virtual tour of a historic area or structure is an exciting way to explore a site in its current state or what it most likely looked like at one point. The viewer selects spots to virtually go to where they are able to look around that area in any direction. The interactive tour can be accessed on a mobile device, a computer or using a virtual reality VR headset for a fully immersive user experience. The tour can be a standard version made with regular aerial and ground based photography or made with augmented imagery as described in the above visualization section to transport the viewer back in time to the historic period showcased at the site. A custom web tool can also be developed to access, present and share the tour with ease.

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UAV aerial cinematography or video footage captured of a historic site or structure creates a beautiful fly-through effect. To produce incredibly smooth yet visually dynamic aerial shots, Elevated Element employs a multi-person operation method. The pilot can focus on navigation of the aircraft while the camera operator is able to move the camera indepently to capture the best possible results. An additional team member may also contribute to the effort as a visual observer and assistant. Not only is this strategy the safest way to perform such work, but also enables us to produce footage that is perfectly exposed, is sharply focused and well composed. Visually panning across a historic site from an elevated perspective while flying over or past creates a very effective setting of the stage, showing the full site in full context or leaving your audience with a lasting impression. Drone cinematography can stand alone or be combined with other technologies such as 3D modeling or virtual reality for a fully immersive experience.

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