Archaeo-Geophysics in the Netherlands

Hello! For me, the day of archaeology will be a day of interpreting geophysical data which I collected earlier. I’ll start off with a coffee and fire up my computer. I will have to spend the day behind my computer rummaging around with my GPR- and magnetometry-data. Looking through my eyelashes, trying different colourmaps, data-filters, studying other available information just to see if geophysics will reveal certain lines, shapes and anomalies in general.

Conducting geophysical surveys for a commercial firm in Holland is what I do. Officially educated as an geologist/geochemist, I spend a lot of years in the environmental engineering field (soil surveys, soil remediation), but the combination of geophysics & archaeology was always appealing to me. At our firm Saricon, we also look for UXO’s, but my main field of interest is the world of archaeology!

Then one day…. off to the field! Whether dressed in waterproof clothing & wellies, or short-sleeved with sunglasses, we have to do our survey. DependinBut before we can produce maps, we have to gather the data in a correct way. We have to decide what kind of geophysical techniques we will use, depending on the aim of the survey, local circumstances, geology, expected contrast between the anomalies and surrounding soil. What will the survey-setup look like(density grid, settings of equipment, testing ….)? And also important, we have to consider the available budget and time constraints.

Apart from the equipment itself, a lot of ducttape & my leatherman are my necessary tools in the field.g on the chosen equipment and field circumstances we gather our data by foot or by quad. Here are some pictures of our fieldwork.

So, once the data is collected, the post-processing and interpreting of the data starts. That’s what I’m doing today. And it is always exciting , because you never know in advance what the data will reveal. Finally found the lost ark maybe?

Next step is to discuss our data and results with the archaeologist. I can show him/her nice colourful pictures and twirling 3D-models, but what do the anomalies mean? Using other forms of information will help us out. Groundtruthing (eg. coring) can be another important aspect of the job.

Here you see a picture of different inner- and outer moats of a small medieval castle. Our GPR-survey was used to pinpoint interesting locations and determine the position of trenches.

But also this small 3D-model revealed the position of former cloister-foundations.

Well, the day is ending. I did a lot of work and am almost satisfied with the results. Just a little more finetuning and I can set up a meeting with the archaeologist and client to discuss results! Mysteries to be solved!

2 thoughts on “Archaeo-Geophysics in the Netherlands

  1. hello. I’d like know what firm produces the radar in the picture.

    sandro veronese

  2. Ferry says:

    Hey Sandro, just read your question. The radar is a ZOND-system with a 300MHZ-antenna ( Because the original ZOND-antennas are poorly shielded, we modified the antenna and replaced the shielding, use better cables etc… And linked GPS to the software for positioning.

    Best regards

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