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Space age tech for stone age applications. Applying high resolution GPR scanning and magnetic surveys to identify buried artifacts of archeological or historical significance. Preliminary non-invasive ground investigations for cemetery development and boundary delineation.

A wide range of geophysical methods can be applied for locating and identifying targets of archaeological or historical interest. Magnetometry and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) are particularly suited to archaeological investigations – from identifying large scale building footings, fire pits and pit houses to buried ground disturbances, compacted soils, depressions or unmarked burials.

These surveys can cover large areas helping to put any larger archaeological findings in context, or aiding in narrowing down potential areas of interest for further investigation.

Gathering as much information as possible, from a broad range of sources, can often make the difference in making comprehensive interpretations piecing together archaeological findings. In situations where invasive excavations are impossible, archaeological geophysics offers the only option for direct ground investigation.

‘Sweeping’ greenfield sites using highly sensitive magnetic equipment is a common method for identifying traces of past human presence. TRM (thermoremnant magnetization), for example, leaves a magnetic signature from the heating and cooling of rocks, soils and the ground. Areas that were previous used for fire pits or hearths that are still in situ help us identify settlements or historic trade routes.

A secondary application of shallow GPR in particular is for the confirmation of suspected or known burial sites. Improving cemetery records with radar evidence allows planners to identify available plots and optimize cemetery layout.

Archaeological Geophysics

Applications

The main application of geophysical methods for archaeological investigations are for identifying the existence and location of unmarked graves. The historical nature of cemeteries and burial sites often result in inaccuracies in the position, size and even the number of graves within a known burial area. Geophysical techniques offer a completely non-invasive way of identifying and locating potential burials.

Providing initial subsurface spatial data to identify potential areas for excavation, mapping subsurface anomalies that may be of archaeological significance, aids in the planning of archaeological surveys and ultimately allows for more efficient digs.