As many of you know, I purchased a drone recently. I got a used DJI Phantom 3 Standard off mpb.com and I've been flying it around, taking pictures. While I usually don't need too much justification to buy new bits of photography kit, this time I actually had an academic reason for it. So now I can say that I've bought a drone for "research purposes"... Yeah, I know, you almost believed that excuse!
I'm in my third year of university now in Cambridge, studying archaeology and this means that I had to find a dissertation topic. Now, while most people in undergraduate archaeology courses do their dissertation based on the fieldwork they did, that was not really an option for me. I spent most of my fieldwork rallying a big Ford Transit van up and down dirt roads around Százhalombatta and I did very little actual excavation. So it was great fun, but van driving and car fixing hardly makes for a very serious dissertation topic. Plus in Százhalombatta we were working on a Bronze Age site and I have no clue about the Bronze Age in Europe, as I mainly study the Americas and South Asia.
Yup, that's me up there changing tires on the van (thanks Andrew for the pic!), plus a few snaps from the excavation just so you can see where I worked in the summer for a month.
But this meant that I had to search for a dissertation topic which I could actually gather some new data on. I feel that just doing research sitting in the library (on the undergraduate level) in most cases just ends up being boring couch philosophy, rehashing someone else's ideas and not doing anything valuable. So I had to find a topic which I could do some interesting research on.
This was quite a dilemma, but luckily I'd already had an idea in the back of my head for many months. I've read several excavation reports where they used drones to do aerial surveys of archaeological sites. However, not much literature is available on the use of drones in archaeology, as it is such a new technology. So I saw an opportunity here to do some original research.
I am now doing my dissertation about the use of drones in archaeology, mainly looking at how surveying with commercially available drones like my DJI Phantom can be compared to traditional surveying methods. The plan is to survey a few archaeological sites with the drone in the winter and then work from there.
Was this really the main reason I bought the drone? I'll just let you decide that... But drones are really cool gadgets and I've wanted one for ages, so it was only a matter of time that I bought one. At least this way I had a good justification for the purchase and this way I hopefully have a solid dissertation topic as well.
To be completely honest, I just really wanted to get a drone and this was a great excuse!