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Site Interiography and Geophysical Scanning: Interpreting the Texture and Form of Archaeological Deposits with Ground-Penetrating Radar


The remarkable potential of geophysical scanning—to assess the internal variability of sites in new ways, to highlight important phenomena in the field, to exercise co-creation of interpretation and commitment to minimal destruction of community partners’ resources, and to aid in the practice of due diligence in avoiding desecration of the sacred—continues to be underutilized in archaeology. While archaeological artifacts, features, and strata remain primary foci of archaeological geophysics, these phenomena are perceived quite differently in scans than in visual or tactile exposures. In turn, new registers of site exploration afforded by geophysical prospection may be constrained by the language of site excavation and visual observation, requiring adjustments in the ways of thinking about and describing what the instruments are measuring. The texture and form of site deposits as rendered in ground-penetrating radar scans can be examined in detail prior to making interpretations of cultural features or stratigraphy. Far more than simple “anomalies” demanding our attention for excavation, patterns in geophysical data can be the focus of extensive archaeological analysis prior to, in conjunction with, or independent from excavation.

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