The Use of Archaeological Methods
in the Collection of Data Related
to Alleged Sasquatch Activity
Data (descriptions and measurements) are the foundation to all scientific
inquiry. Investigators of the sasquatch phenomena are attempting to collect
hard evidence that can be used to identify physical characteristics of this
creature and further the biological understanding of its occurrence and
distribution, food habits, gait, territory, habitat, migratory movements,
behavior, and area population size. However, to this point, investigators have
not had a standardized set of methods or terms for which to gather this data.
Our mainstream counterparts have criticized this lack of standardization as
being non-scientific. This paper seeks to present standardized methods and
terms to aid in the professional collection of data based on widely accepted
archaeological methods. These methods can be used to document the spatial
distribution of tracks, trackways, beds, shelter sites, nests, scat, hair,
rubs, and trails with accurate detailed descriptions.
- A large bipedal primate occupying various
environments in North America. Also known as Bigfoot.
geographic place where there is physical evidence of sasquatch activity.
- Any object or structure made, modified, or used by a
sasquatch that is typically incorporated into the ground, and which cannot be
removed from its location without affecting its integrity, such as footprints,
nests, rock stacks, broken trees, etc.
portable objects made, modified, or used by a sasquatch. This can include deer
bone, sticks, rocks, etc.
- Biological specimens
remains of or from a sasquatch. This can include dung, hair, blood, bone, etc.
- Unmodified biological (plant or animal) remains
resulting from sasquatch activity (i.e., deer kills, etc.)
- A systematic
examination of land to document sasquatch activity.
- Site Record
record detailing the site, feature and/or artifact, including location,
directions, content, terrain, elevation, and other geographical information.
Usually portrayed in part by a site map.
- Site Map
sketched depiction of the geographical layout of a site and/or feature.
- Detailed record of photos taken of the site and/or
feature, including compass directions.
marker from which all measurements and compass directions are taken. Prominent
and obvious so it can be relocated later in time.
Site Recording Tools
Any good data collection first starts with good tools. The following is a list
of necessary tools to do the job.
USGS topographic map
handheld ruler or drafting/engineering scale
measuring tape (at least 25 meters in length)
compass with degree demarcations
plastic bags and/or vials for collection of material
35 mm or digital camera
surgical gloves for evidence collection.
The survey strategy should be designed to insure that the types of landscape
comprising each survey area receive an intensity of coverage appropriate to the
roughness of terrain, density of vegetation cover, degree of slope, constraints
on observation, and expected sasquatch activity, based on witness accounts in
Intensive survey - Allows the surveyor to encounter the smallest of
sasquatch sites likely to occur in an area. The surveyor does not rely on
inspection of specific localities on an intuitive basis. Traverses or transects
between members of the crew vary between 1-24 meters apart. The transects
function as survey corridors for individual team members who walk them in a
meandering pattern, closely observing the ground surface and surrounding area.
All areas which can be walked are surveyed in this mode. Excluded are areas too
steep to safely walk and areas of impenetrable brush. An attempt should be made
to cover the entire area using parallel transects. Transects can be marked on a
USGS map and should be guided by compass bearings if possible.
Cursory survey - Entails taking random or widely spaced (25-75 meters)
transects or traverses through an area. Usually this is caused by dense brush
or extremely steep terrain. All possible measures are taken to identify areas
which can be inspected in an intensive manner.
Unsurveyed - Areas with precipitously steep slopes and/or dense
vegetation where even a cursory survey is not possible or feasible.
Site Recording Methods
Once a site is located, basic descriptive information needs to be recorded.
This data needs to be written down at the time of discovery, rather than
waiting to get back to the vehicle or home.
Directions to Location – How did you get here? List what roads you
traveled on, how far and in what direction. When you left the car, describe how
far you walked and in what direction.
Example: From Sonora, California, travel east of Highway 108 for 23 miles to
the town of Strawberry. In the town of Strawberry, turn right on Pinecrest
Road, and continue for 1.3 miles. Park at the turnout. Walk due west for one
mile to the site.
Environmental Data – What does the site look like? Describe the
vegetation (particularly any edible species), slope, aspect, distance and
direction to the closest permanent water source, elevation, and basic landforms
(e.g. hilltop, steep mountain slope, valley floor, etc.).
Physical Location (must have USGS Topographic Map) – Record the exact
location of the site. Use Township, Range, Section (to 1/32nd if
possible), and either UTMs or Longitude/Latitude. A Geographical Positioning
System (GPS) unit would be a useful tool to document this information.
Features – Describe the feature: material, length, width, thickness
(all in metrics), color, shape, and quantity. If a built feature, described
method of construction. If the feature are footprints, record the length,
width, and depth of each print; entire length of trackway; distance between the
heel of left foot to the heel of the next left foot (or right is two of those
Artifacts – Describe the artifact, material, length, width, thickness,
color, shape, and quantity. Photograph all artifacts with a scale in the photo
Weather – Describe basic weather and environmental conditions (e.g.,
raining, six inches of fresh snow on the ground, dry sandy desert, etc.).
Notes – Any other pertinent facts and conditions should be recorded. Note
anything you collected and from where (including hairs, footprints, blood,
dung, etc.). If possible, mark the original location of the item on the site
map prior to collecting.
Site Mapping Methods
This section is intended to aid in the preparation of site map, which will
serve an approximate depiction of a site in the context of its environmental
setting. The most important criteria are that the map be clear, legible, and
show the relative locations of the cultural and natural features of the site.
In general, all materials or environmental features need to be shown.
Any map, to be useful, requires a method of location and measuring (a datum
and measurements), a method of orientation (a north arrow), a scale, a legend
explaining symbols utilized and an identification of the subject matter(see
Figures 1 and 2).
Location and Measurement - Inherent in these concerns are both the
location of a key feature (datum) on the site in relation to the larger
environment as depicted on a USGS topographic quadrangle and the relationship
of other relevant features of the site area to the chosen datum.
Initially, a datum must be established, ideally a prominent, permanent feature
on or near the site which is high and open enough to allow observation of most
of the site area. Typical data (plural of datum) include a prominent rock, a
unique tree, a stationary manmade object (e.g. a building corner, a permanent
fence post, etc.). If no adequate landmark is available, a stake or small pile
or rock may be used to mark the datum. Secondary datums can be used if
necessary for mapping site details.
If a GPS is not available and the recorder is unsure of the exact location of
the site on a USGS map, a method of site location called “back sighting” can be
used. Compass bearings are taken from the datum to at least two (and preferably
three) prominent geographical features (e.g. mountain peaks in the distance)
which are depicted on the USGS map. These bearings and “target points” should
be written near the datum symbol on the site map. The nearer the target points
are to the site, the easier future relocation of the datum will be. These
bearings allow plotting of an unknown site location on the USGS map. North
arrow lines and lines of the same bearings are drawn through the respective
target points and the site will be situated where the lines intersect when
drawn back from these targets.
With the site datum established, measurements and bearings are then taken from
the datum to natural and cultural features of the site to be depicted on the
map. The information is entered on the sketch map along radians from the datum,
which end in arrows that indicate the direction of the compass sighting and the
distance, in meters, to the feature being identified. These radians aid in the
relocation of datum even on a map not drawn to scale. Compass bearing are taken
by measuring on the compass the number of degrees east of north that the object
North Arrow - Indicate whether true or magnetic north, also indicate on
which compass setting (TN or MN) all sightings on the map are made. Be
consistent in this choice both on one map and within a series of maps. The top
of a map should be oriented towards approximate north.
Scale - A grid scale block need not be included on the field map if
distances along bearings are measured to relevant points on the site. The bar
scale can be devised latter from this data. In the event that a metric tape is
not available, the mapmaker may pace the distance to the item being location,
however, the mapmaker’s pace length must be known. Grid paper should be used to
make the map as accurate as possible.
Legend - It is best to clearly label all symbols shown on the map in
the corner of the sketch (see Figure 3).
Identification - All maps need to have location name, name of mapmaker,
and date created located in the upper right hand corner of the map.
Topographic Contours - Although downslope arrows are often used to
depict terrain changes, approximate contours can improve the usefulness of the
map. Contours can be used in conjunction with downslope arrows or approximate
elevation numbers so that trends in the topography shown will be clear.
Typically elevation lines are drawn for every meter of elevational change,
however, this can be adjusted to suit the terrain of the subject area.
SITE MAPPING PROCEDURES
Once the site is identified, walk over the entire visible site area, walk the
boundaries to determine the extent, measure using metrics, and draw on sketch
Choose paper size large enough and scale small enough to be able to sketch the
entire site on a single piece without cramping details of the site area.
Establish the site datum, ideally at a permanent geographical features, such as
a rock outcropping, not necessarily on site but close to the site and so that
the entire site is visible from the datum. A secondary datum may be necessary
to accomplish this. Tie in this datum to the primary datum by compass bearing
From the site datum, shoot in the major features, artifacts, and the path you
took to the site (i.e., road, trail, etc.) with a sighting compass. Measure the
distance from the datum to the feature or artifact in metric measurements
(meters, centimeters, etc.). Measurements can be by tape or if you know, you’re
pace. The datum can also be back sighted from each feature and the bearing
converted later. Note: When pacing in two features of the same bearing at
different distances, pace the distance from Datum to Feature 1 and record it,
then pace the distance from Feature 1 to Feature 2 and record separately.
Sketch in the approximate contour lines.
All symbols should be clearly labeled on the map or in the legend. Lettering
should be aligned to be read from the bottom of the top with the map held in
one general direction.
A general vicinity map, usually a USGS map, should also be attached.
Enter the identifying site name, name of mapmaker, scale, and date of creation.
Figure 1. Site Sketch Map.
FEATURE RECORDING/MAPPING PROCEDURES
Once a feature is located, it is important to record specific details on soil
type, construction materials, construction methods, approximate age of feature,
etc. Closely examine the feature for hairs, bone, teeth, etc.
Divide the feature into four parts (using a North/South, East/West line), as
well as a piece of grid paper.
Carefully measure the height and width of the feature within each quad and
sketch to scale on grid paper.
Sketch in the individual elements of the feature (each rock, branch, etc.)
Mark the location of the feature on the main site map.
All symbols should be clearly labeled on the map or in the legend. Lettering
should be aligned to be read from the bottom to the top with the map held in
one general direction.
Enter the identifying site name, feature name, name of mapmaker, scale, and
date of creation.
If possible, collect samples of soil and/or construction material for later
reference. Please record this information in the notes section. Place materials
in plastic bags labeled with site name, feature number, name of collector, and
date of collection.
Figure 2. Feature Sketch Map.
Figure 3. Common Map Symbols.
A complete and accurate photo record is a must for any well-documented site.
In the field, you may feel that you can tell the difference between photos, but
often that distinction is not as obvious once home. A log, detailing each
frame, including subject and compass direction, can also help reconstruct the
site later on. Figure 4 is an example of how to record the data.
Figure 4. Example of a Photo Record.
Name: Moskowitz/Nelson .
Date: April 3, 2002 .
Camera Type: Pentex 35mm
File Type: Kodak Color 400
View of Feature 1, looking North
Big Hill Site
35 degrees TN of datum
View of Feature 2, looking southeast
Big Hill Site
75 degrees TN of datum
Overview of site
Big Hill Site
170 degrees TN of datum
Big Hill Site
35 degrees TN of datum
The last step in recording a site, feature, and/or artifact is writing the
data into a cohesive report for sharing. It does little good to collect data in
a scientific manner and then not allow that data to be viewed by peers and/or
the public (although the public does not need to know precise location
information). The report need not be complex, but rather just a gathering of
the facts, a topographic map showing location, and finished, inked sketch maps
of the site and features. The author can also add their impressions of likely
use of the site, behaviors, size of group, etc. based on the data gathered.
Sketch maps made in the field may contain accurate data (i.e. bearings and
distances), however, they often portray the spatial relationships between items
inaccurately due to the nuances of human observation. A method for correcting
such inaccuracies is to replicate and redraft the field sketch map using the
bearing and distance data you obtained in the field. In order to do so, plot
the datum on a piece of graph paper with the graph lines representing
north-south and east-west. Typically the datum is placed on the graph paper in
the same relative position it is located in the field (e.g. if the datum is in
the southwest part of the site, put it on the southwest part of the graph
paper). Then, choose a scale to represent distance. For example, each meter may
be represented by 1/4 inch or whatever the distance is between grids on the
graph paper (1/4 inch is popular).
Using a 360 degree protractor with north being aligned with the vertical lines
on the graph paper and the center of the protractor located directly over the
datum, measure the bearing in degrees to the object from the datum and mark the
bearing on the graph paper. For example, if the item was noted in the field as
being 38 degrees east of north from the datum, measure 38 degrees on the
protractor. Then, remove the protractor and place your ruler or scale so that
zero is over the datum and it is in line with the bearing mark just made. Then
measure the number of meters out to the object from the datum. For example, if
the object was measured in the field as being 20 meters away from the datum,
then, using 1/4 inch for each meter, measure 5 inches out from the datum on
that bearing (i.e. 1/4 inch times 20 [for each meter] equals 5 inches). In this
location, redraw a representation of the item being mapped. Plot all such
items, including site boundaries. Typically the initial draft of this final map
is done lightly with a pencil and then, for a final map, pertinent pencil lines
are remarked with an ink pen.
The methods presented here can also be used to record the efforts to obtain
data, such as bait stations or sound blasting. Keeping precise records of where
and when these activities occurred will add to the overall picture of the data
Information on how to cast prints or collect specimens such as hair, dung,
blood, etc., for scientific analysis is not presented here, but can be found elsewhere on the BFRO site.