Ground Penetrating Radar for Archaeology

Ground Penetrating Radar for Archaeology

With archaeology, sampling and excavating can be timely, costly, and risky. One wrong move and you could risk damaging an important structure or artifact. For the archaeologist, collecting subsurface data is essential before any digging can take place.

Archaeology requires that one be critical of the data they collect and a number of different conditions before digging for artifacts. Secondly, because GPR data does not provide an outline of the shapes the system locates, one cannot be sure exactly what they may find. GPR may tell you that something is there, but it will not image the exact shape of that object. Operating the system as intended will reveal much about the target, however. Making multiple side-by-side passes, for example, creates a clearer portrayal of the image and gives greater understanding of the data collected.

How GPR Aids Archaeology

Ground penetrating radar aids archaeologists who need accurate subsurface data to inform their decisions on where to dig and how deep. Depending on the model used, the archaeologist can use GPR to help uncover findings like:

  • Buried buildings and foundations
  • Forgotten infrastructure (trenches, waterways, cisterns, etc.)
  • Underground tunnels and voids
  • Buried military paraphernalia
  • Bones, human or otherwise
  • Lost graves, coffins, etc.
  • Other misc. artifacts

It is important to reinforce that GPR will NOT image the exact object, but will rather tell the operator where an object is very likely buried. It is up to the operator or other archaeology professional to analyze and interpret the data they collect to make the best judgment.

GPR Compared to Other Archaeology Locating Methods

Various other methods in archaeological survey have their limitations:

Though resistivity meters are lightweight and cheap, they often do not determine depth or create vertical profiles as accurately as other solutions. Deeper investigations require long cables. Here, properly laying the cable and maintaining clean, interference-free leads is time-consuming and not worth the investment. The results are often ambiguous with no coarse resolution and the presence of any underground infrastructure may further complicate interpreting findings.

Mangetometers respond to iron and steel levels in materials and largely depend on objects' mass for sufficient detection. Unfortunately, high concentrations of magnetic materials may disrupt the detection of subtler anomalies that may be of more interest to the archaeologist.

Electromagnetic conductivity instruments also respond strongly to metal. This means that survey results focusing on nonmetallic materials may be skewed or interrupted.

The US Radar Difference

While the above illustrates that there are a variety of locating tools that can be used in archaeology, not all are created equal. The archaeologist's ideal locating solution should be one that is portable, noninvasive, adaptable to multiple soil conditions, and able to collect actionable data.

Systems like our GPRover and Quantum Imager benefit the archaeologist in the following ways:

  • Rugged, easily portable design that can traverse multiple terrains
  • Auto-calibrating antenna to respond to various soil conditions
  • Triple-frequency antenna signal simultaneously collects three separate sets of data at three separate depths for cross-comparison and greater accuracy.
  • GPS-enabled mapping capabilities to document locations of findings
  • Internet connectivity to share data with others involved on your project
  • Noninvasive scanning = no digging required to operate.

Get Started Locating with GPR Today

We want to help you uncover the past with the best locating equipment available. To consult with one of our team members, contact us anytime and we will be happy to help you identify the best GPR system for your specific needs.