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Preserving archaeology and culture for our future

ADVANCES IN THE USE OF GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR

November 2012: Our latest Old Pueblo Archaeology bulletin features a scientific article by archaeologist Dr. Lawrence B. “Larry” Conyers titled “Advances in the Use of Ground-Penetrating Radar at Archaeological Sites in Southern Arizona.” Dr. Conyers, a University of Denver Department of Anthropology professor, has pioneered in archaeological explorations using the sophisticated ground-penetrating radar, or “GPR,” remote-sensing technique. He gave a presentation on this topic for Old Pueblo Archaeology Center’s monthly “Third Thursday Food for Thought” lecture series in January 2012.

 

Researchers in the Southwest traditionally have determined the extent of buried archaeological sites by identifying scatters of artifacts on the ground surface, or by using random shovel tests or backhoe trenches. These common discovery methods have their drawbacks, however, because either natural or human-caused processes such as flooding, dust storms, plowing, or urban sprawl can obscure surface artifact distributions. In some instances, these processes can make identification of archaeological features impossible if artifacts are buried by sediment and have not been brought to the surface by some kind of disturbance, such as erosion or burrowing animals. These potential biases can, in turn, result in misleading or inaccurate characterizations of subsurface deposits.

 

Although backhoe trenching or shovel testing can help resolve some of these issues, these techniques tend to be costly and destructive, and the test excavations still may miss finding buried archaeological features. In this bulletin Larry discusses some of the ways in which the well-tested, nondestructive GPR geophysical survey method has been used recently to discover and map buried features at archaeological sites across southern Arizona. Sites in this region at which he has used GPR assessment occur in a variety of environmental settings, contain different kinds of cultural features (e.g., canals, agricultural fields, adobe walls), and range in age from the Early Agricultural period (ca. 1200-800 BC) to the Hohokam Classic period (ca. AD 1150-1450). His examples not only illustrate how GPR can complement traditional archaeological discovery methods, they also show how GPR can provide a viable alternative to traditional methods when archaeological excavation is not an option. To read the entire article click here: https://www.oldpueblo.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/201106opa66AdvancesInTheUseOfGround-PenetratingRadar.pdf

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