Geophysical Measurements on Glacial Soils : A Challenge in the Detection, Identification and Reconstruction of Archaeological Targets

The archaeological investigation of Bronze Age features in glacial soils in geophysical data is a great challenge and will be the focus of three distinct chapters of this thesis. Glacial soils are characterised by a high proportion of boulder stones but also by the occurrence of iron oxide concretions and are thus very heterogeneous. One of the challenges is to identify stony archaeological features in the stony environment.

The first two chapters deal with the improvement of the detection and identification of archaeological features in radar and magnetic data. Subject of the investigations are burial mounds and their near surroundings. The third chapter attempts to reconstruct the shape and height of an almost eroded burial mound.

Extensive geophysical measurement campaigns were carried out over Bronze Age sites in the region of northern Germany, with a strong focus on radar and magnetic measurements. To be able to estimate how much archaeological features are detected in the geophysical data the archaeological documentation was included. Soil analyses were used to estimate soil conditions with the help of numerical modelling. To estimate the height of the former mound geometric shapes, such as bell shape, cone, and spherical section were used.

This study demonstrates that the detectability of stony archaeological features can be improved if the measurement campaign is conducted in the wet months, whereas the improved detectability of pit-like features will be improved if one measures in the drier months. The identification of archaeological features can be improved if one combines radar with magnetic data and by the development of a pattern recognition tool by additionally use the signal strength.

The minimum height of the former burial mound could be determined, based on the usage of the ditch material from each phase and ranges between 2.1 m and 3.4 m.


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