Posted by William Nunnelley on 2011-10-14

Samford University students in four departments are making the most of surveying equipment donated to the school earlier this year.  Already, they have surveyed an ancient site in Israel and a beach on Dauphin Island, Ala.  They are making plans for additional surveying work in these and other regions during 2012.

            The surveying equipment, known as a total station, came Samford’s way as the result of a proposal from faculty members in four departments: religion, geography, biology and interior design.  The station is an electronic/optical instrument used in modern surveying.

            In addition to the Israel and beach projects, the equipment will be used in surveying changing coastlines in the Caribbean, for reforestation projects in Alabama and Costa Rica; and for work on historic buildings in Birmingham, Ala.

            Samford religion professor James Strange and five students this summer used the donated equipment to survey the ancient site of Shikhin in Israel, mapping the ruins of ancient buildings, cisterns, caves and olive and wine presses. 

              “The site had been surveyed in 1988, but the Samford students were able to spot many ruins and artifacts never before found,” said Dr. Strange. “They helped prepare for the very first excavation of the site, which Samford students will also participate in during the summer of 2012.”

           The site is important for understanding the economy, industry and social institutions of villages in Galilee during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, said Strange, a veteran in numerous archaeological digs in the Middle East.

           “These are the periods and this is the land that gave birth to both Christianity and Judaism as we know it today,” he said.

            “I learned so much on this trip about different cultures, history and religion,” said student Erica Thornton.

            Other faculty members involved in the surveying projects are Dr. Jennifer Rahn, geography; Dr. Malia Fincher, biology; and Charles Ford, interior design.

            Robins & Morton Group, a general contractor, donated the equipment, valued at about $10,000.  The donation included two total stations, one for field use and one for training and local use.




Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.