Studying Archaeological Sites without Excavation
The geophysical technology has contributed significantly to the archaeological research through cartographic mapping of the subsurface monuments, reconstruction of endangered cultural sites, imaging of the built space of the archaeological sites and design upgrade of the excavations with main objective the protection of cultural heritage.
Using different methods and measurement instruments, geophysical surveys can be used as non-destructive techniques in different phases of archaeological research, providing information about the type of subsurface monuments, depth and scope and sometimes on occupancy levels or the nature of the disaster.
Through the measurement of the magnetic field of the earth, the electrical resistance or conductivity of the soil, the intensity of the gravitational field and the seismic acoustic waves or electromagnetic waves of ground penetrating radar to penetrate the subsoil and are reflected by the various targets or soil layers, it becomes possible mapping the subsurface monuments, which offers a unique way of imaging the archaeological relics prior or without conducting the excavation. The complex use of these methods allows the identification and cartographic mapping of built space of archaeological sites while providing additional information on the geomorphologic state of their context.
Targets of the New Geophysical and Remote Sensing Technology
Remains of buildings, architectural structures, roads, kilns, ceramic pits, fortifications, underground chambers, channels and tombs are some of the most promising targets of the above technology which is constantly testing its capabilities in new fields.
Considering the human and natural factors that threaten the cultural heritage and the irreversible effects of excavation, we realize that geophysical surveys are a tool of archaeological research that offers information in the most efficient, economical and productive way. Specifically, geophysical techniques can be used in a systematic or rescue excavations to guide them or offer an immediate assessment before execution of construction or development projects.
They can be used in surveys to answer questions related to the location of settlements and a cultural resources management programs in order to support operations related to the maintenance of buildings and planning cultural parks or protected areas. The geophysical techniques are unique digital recording of archaeological sites.
How Remote Sensing Technique Works to Better Archaeological Research
The archaeological interpretation is enhanced by the parallel use of innovative imaging techniques (Geographic Information Systems – GIS), which allow the reconstruction of three-dimensional models and superimposing different information levels before or during an excavation. In this way a digital file of the site is created, preserved in all study stages and which may contain additional information on the areas that have not been excavated. Even through GIS can be superimposed geophysical maps on aerial photography of the region or the general topographic cadastral or background that thus offering a more complete documentation of archaeological sites.
Because of the rapid rate at which technology progresses, for electronic machines and processing and visualization software, information on the growing applications of terrestrial and satellite remote sensing is done with great difficulty. Fortunately, in recent years, a general concern on education and information for researchers. From a sample of 60 of History, Archaeology and Anthropology Departments worldwide (information which is accessible from the Internet), about 50% offer specialized courses in the field of geophysical while 65% offer courses on satellite remote sensing, the GIS, the Graphics and CAD.
Also, in recent years have appeared several electronic databases on the Internet that offer applications examples, methodology, images and maps results, having considerably improve communication and dissemination of information among stakeholders in the area of remote sensing. Relevant websites include state / regional, academic / research and public or private databases.
These techniques have introduced a new way of approaching and understanding the archaeological research and can bring many benefits to stakeholders. To make better use of their potential need for their systematic incorporation into the general planning and reflection of archaeological research and the dissemination of their results with a specially structured way on the Internet. Thus, the adoption of these methods will be upgraded to the decision-making process and actions in matters concerning the protection and management of cultural resources.