Application of Geophysical Approach in Archaeological Research and Prospection
Geophysical methods are beginning to be applied in archaeology due to their non-destructive character, increasing the likelihood of both identifying and unearthing hidden structures and artefacts without damage. However, the application of geophysical methods is often limited by ambiguity of the physical property of interest to the interpretation of results. Therefore, more auxiliary and supportive parameters are needed, allowing a fuller characterisation of these complex problems. The proposed project fulfils the aims of the COST Action SAGA, by the novel and original integration of soil magnetic characteristics in order to reduce the ambiguity in interpretation of geophysical data sets used in archaeological prospection. Our contribution to COST Action SAGA will enable the interdisciplinary connection of environmental magnetism and traditional geophysical prospection method. This new approach will be accomplished by the experts recognised in their respective field. The work will be divided into four specific tasks: Monitoring of soil erosion at selected archaeologically important sites using different magnetic methods and study of soil changes; 2) Magnetic characterization of anthropogenic signal (pollution) in soils due to medieval and recent metallurgical activities in the Moravian Carst environment; 3) Development of effective geophysical prospection method based on the magnetic properties of soils and rocks; 4) Demonstrating and verifying the use of archaeomagnetic dating methods within the Czech Republic. Added value of the project is mainly in the establishment of interdisciplinary network and cooperation among archaeologists, geophysicists and soil scientists.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (MEYS) (LTC19029)
Start: 01/06/2019 - End: 30/09/2022
Geochemical insight into non-destructive archaeological research
The project is generally focused on two main goals: introducing the geochemical methods and data intertpretation into geophysical research, and the data integration and combined processing (as geophysical and geochemical data are of various character). Six main aims will be followed in the project: i) Data types synthesis (synthesis of information about variety of data types processed in geophysical and geochemical research as background for further work); ii) Identification of right analytical processes (some data has to be processed only in some particular manners); iii) The relationships between measured variables and soil conditions (the geophysics needs to answer some of these questions in order to do better data modelling); iv) Methodics of standardized processing (there should be produced some manuals and rules of how to rightly process the data and vizualize them); v) Software sollution (standardized processing should be automatize through some form of scripts like for R Statistical environment); vi) Workshop / training school – the project should be concluded by training school for specialists and also non-specialists – not only archeologists or archeo-geophysicists, bot also e.g. foresters, farmers, land owners or archaeological heritage workers).
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (MEYS) (LTC19016)
Start: 01/07/2019 - End: 25/10/2022
Environmental factors in minimal-invasive cultural heritage management: the Vestfold Monitoring Project
Vestfold county is home to some of Norway's most important archaeological sites and monuments. Effective cultural heritage management (CHM) thus presents one of the key responsibilities for the county council. The current minimal-invasive CHM strategy pursued by Vestfold county encompasses a two-step process consisting of the use of a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to non-invasively prospect threatened areas. In a second step, the collected GPR data and its archaeological interpretation serve as the basis for targeted test trench ing. Even though this strategy has proved beneficia I for the detection of unknown buried archaeological structures, its full implementation into daily CHM routines has led to several issues. This applies in particular to the quality, reliability and detection rates of each survey? points that have not been targeted by research yet. GPR surveys are influenced by the environmental conditions prevalent at the time of acquisition. Soil moisture in particular controls the contrast between archaeological features and surrounding subsurface materials. The region of Vestfold, with precipitation rates between 1000? 1500mm per year anda rapidly changing weather pattern, is especially exposed to potential negative consequences. VEMOP will investigate the influence of different environmental factors and conditions onto the quality and reliability of GPR data. Repeated GPR surveys will be conducted over a period of 12 months at four test sites representative of Vestfold county while prevailing environmental conditions will be monitored in-situ using. This will allow to better understand the processes individual environmental factors underga in changing conditions and how this impacts the quality of GPR data. Results of VEMOP will lead to more reliable GPR data, increase the planning security for authorities and contribute toa more sustainable CHM in Vestfold.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Regionale Forskningsfond/Oslofjordfondet (299278), Norway
Start: 01/11/2019 - End: 01/11/2022
Density analysis of the rock environment based on surface and underground gravity measurements
Density of rocks is a basic parameter characterizing the rock environment from the point of view of gravimetry. Its correct estimation for a given area is a necessary condition for correct processing and interpretation of gravimetric measurements. In the case of Slovakia that fact is emphasized by the rugged mountainous character of our territory, and at the same time complicated geological structure of the Western Carpathians. It is known that laboratory density analyzes of rock samples do not always reflect the natural density properties of the rocks. For that reason methods of direct analysis of gravimetric measurements are becoming increasingly important. In particular, the combination of surface and underground gravimetric measurements is a very suitable approach. The aim of the project will be to develop this methodology using the most modern geophysical and geodetic methods. The subject of the research will also be the application of the above-mentioned methodology in the archaeological research (study of density structures of burial mounds).
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Slovak Scientific Agency VEGA (2/0100/20)
Start: 01/01/2020 - End: 31/12/2023
Working the land, searching the soil. A geophysical framework for diachronic land-use studies
Philippe De Smedt
Through an interdisciplinary approach, this project aims to redress current understanding of Neolithic land-use. Hereby, a synergy between archaeology, environmental studies and applied geophysics will provide insight into diachronic human-environment interactions in complex pedogical environments. Aimed at a robust basis for prehistoric archaeology, this will equally offer a future-oriented methodological framework for soil and environmental studies. This project is focussed on investigating elusive forms of human land-use as recorded in the soil archive. By addressing this through a geophysical approach, its two main objectives are: 1- to develop a fundamental and methodological framework for geophysical soil studies; 2- to contribute to the understanding of Neolithic settlement organization and land-use of the pioneer farmers in the Belgian-Dutch sand and loess area.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Ghent University Special Research Fund. Belgium
Start: 2020 - End: 2025
PROSPECT International Thematic Network
Philippe De Smedt
It has the objective of strengthening existing excellence at Ghent University, on the main theme of Archaeological Prospection. Archaeological prospection entails detecting, characterizing and evaluating evidence for past human activities and environmental interaction. More than a technical toolset, it encourages holistic understanding of the archaeological record, revealing how soils and vegetation are impacted over time by past communities. By allowing to identify, investigate and understand the diversity of the alterations of the physical environment and material remains of the human past, archaeological prospection encourages us to think broadly about the long-term impacts of our current actions. Advanced visualization techniques enable making this evidence clear and compelling, while facilitating sustainable access to global cultural heritage. Through its unique and explicit focus on assessing exhaustible, buried cultural resources, archaeological prospection is established internationally as a driving force in sustainable heritage exploration, management and promotion internationally at multiple levels. Consequently, it is aligned with the primary societal and cultural motives (Cluster 2) of the Horizon Europe programme. The relevance of integrated prospection approaches is to surpass short-term mitigation strategies due to increased pressure on the archaeological resource. Fine-tuning archaeological prospection by integrating novel sensor technologies, computational methods and traditional archaeological practice enables us to tap into unknown aspects of past human lifeways, while providing a means to conserve and share, otherwise lost, heritage digitally. It intends to assemble diverse international expertise on archaeological prospection and associated disciplines, ranging from earth and data sciences to archaeological theory and heritage studies, to instil a shift towards a more integral investigation of the archaeological record coupled with a richer more sustainable use of the results of archaeological work through new modes of communication and engagement with these data. As its primary aim, the network strives to foster continuous research development improving the international community’s use of these methods, and change stagnant governance traditions that hinge on archaeological prospecting. Our network aims to realise such shifts by optimising combinations of methods and datatypes to increase the scientific and socio-economic revenue of archaeological practice. By providing high-quality, evidence-based education to future archaeologists and prospectors, we hereby aim at a foundation for enduring impact. PROSPECT extends beyond methodological innovation by linking prospection practice and outcomes to theoretical frameworks and perceptions of heritage across society, which it assures though stakeholder interaction.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Ghent University-International Relations Office, Belgium
Start: 01/05/2021 - End: 30/09/2025
Integration of multi-disciplinary data in archaeological research: methodological study of two Iron Age sites by geochemistry and magnetometry
The project aims on implementing the ways of data and analysis integration of geochemical and geophysical data in archaeology. It is based on investigators activities in SAGA – The Soil Science and Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance (COST Action 17131), within which investigator have searched for ways how to integrate the approaches of geophysics and geochemistry. The research will be done on two Iron Age sites by geochemical sampling in the areas of already performed magnetometry. The geochemical dataset and geophysics dataset will be then analysed by various approaches of spatial correlations and characterizations, using also randomizations and multivariate analyses. This is an innovative aspect going beyond usual level of data integration (i.e. just comparison on the level of results and interpretation). We already made the “proof of concept” of such approaches during their development within SAGA action (on already existing datasets, which are not always perfectly suitable – hence this new project). The project main aim is implementing new methodology, although it will produce also usual archaeological case studies of the sites geochemical prospection used for the site structure interpretation.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Czech Science Foundation
Start: 01/01/2023 - End: 31/12/2024
GEOIBERS – Geophysical Survey of Iberian Sites
It focuses on the investigation of three types of Iberian sites (settlements, metal-production and necropolises) using geophysical methods (i.e. magnetometry and ground-penetrating radar) and photogrammetry. The objective is to detect remains of buried structures related to semi-excavated oppida to complete urban layouts, locate unknown smelting ovens related to craft centers, and characterise hidden Iberian funerary landscapes.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: AICO (2020/250), Generalitat Valenciana, Spain
Start: 02/01/2021 - End: 04/01/2022
Interaction between soil science and archaeogeophysics – upgrading the geophysical prospection methods
In the frames of the COST action CA17131 “The Soil Science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance: going beyond prospection” Bulgarian team participates with its expertise in application of mineral magnetic research for delivering unique (paleo)environmental information relevant to archaeological prospection and sites’ investigations. The main aim of the co-financing project is to provide new data and case studies investigations in Bulgaria for fulfilling the objectives of SAGA action. Working packages include: WP1 – Mineral magnetic investigations on natural soil profiles and stratigraphic profiles from multi-level archaeological sites in Bulgaria. Determination of auxiliary analytical parameters for ceramic artifcacts like equivalent firing temperature, magnetic mineralogy, etc. WP2- field magnetic susceptibility measurements for testing the appropriateness of this parameter in prospection studies; mineral magnetic investigation of burnt remains from Neolithic houses for elucidation of the influence of environmental factors on the firing processes; application of rock magnetic techniques for classification and identification of archaeological materials from ancient gold mining site in Bulgaria. WP3 – dissemination of project results through scientific publications and presentations at scientific conferences.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Bulgarian National Science Fund (KP-06-COST/2)
Start: 14/12/2018 End: 14/10/2021
MESOMAG – A geophysical perspective on Mesolithic land use in complex environments
Philippe De Smedt
It aims to expand understanding of the Mesolithic beyond commonly researched wetlands. By combining environmental magnetism, archaeological prospection, and environmental archaeology, the project will develop novel survey approaches to study hunter-gatherer land use and impact in challenging dryland and mountainous upland settings. Focus will be on detecting fireplaces and fire events, which persistently influence magnetic soil properties. After characterizing the magnetic signal of Mesolithic activities at two references sites in Britain, we will prospect for hunter-gatherer traces across the wider landscape. Combining survey outcomes with magnetic proxy and charcoal analysis, MesoMag will estimate the Mesolithic presence, as well as the impact, intensity, and chronology of fires.
Alongside fundamental and methodological research outcomes, it will be evaluated how such data can support modelling spatiotemporal land-use changes during the Mesolithic in future research programmes.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: Ghent University Special Research Fund (BOF/24J/2023/009), Belgium
Start: 01/10/2023- End: 30/09/2027
SENSING IBERIANSCAPES – Exploration of indigenous settlements from the iron age on the eastern Coast of the iberian peninsula using minimal invasive strategies
SENSING IBERIANSCAPES is a 4-year project to start in August 2023. The goal is to investigate indigenous protohistoric Iberian communities in the western Mediterranean and the interaction with their environs, using minimal invasive strategies. It follows a test survey carried out in 2013 and a larger study (GEOIBERS, AICO2020/250) that revealed the potential of geophysical prospection methods to extensively detect features related to Iberian fortified settlements (or oppida), metalworking production sites and necropoli. This project brings a multi-scalar approach to explore urban, production and burial sites from a macro (landscape) down to a micro (feature) perspective. By using a combination of remote and proximal sensing methods (including ground-based geophysical surveys) surface and subsurface archaeological and paleoenvironmental features will be spatially identified, mapped, and characterised. Targeted trench excavation or coring/augering will follow to validate critical findings of the sensed data and to obtain samples for further analyses of some key features to add to the final interpretation. Our expectation is that, apart from the new insights at a site/feature-level on protohistoric urbanistic layout and characteristics of structures within and beyond the oppidum, the study will provide new information at the rather unexplored landscape level. For example, identifying and connecting existing or new sites or other archaeological or paleo-environmental elements of interest. The integration of soil sampling for targeted feature-level characterisation will bring data validation and an extra dimension in the interpretation of the sensed datasets. We will work to contribute to expand the knowledge about the dynamics that the Iberian groups established with their environment to organise their communities (urbanism), exploit resources (especially those related to the tradition, highly specialized but little known, in iron forging), and whose remains rest in intriguing specific locations (necropolis). The research results will be transferred to stakeholders working on the digital musealisation of such assets.
CALL/FUNDING BODY: CIDEGENT, Generalitat Valenciana, Spain
Start: 08/01/2023 - End: 2027