Inverse Filtering of Magnetic Prospection Data—A Gateway to the Social Structure of Cucuteni–Tripolye Settlements?

Magnetic mapping is a common method for investigating archaeological sites. Typically, the magnetic field data are treated with basic signal improving processing followed by image interpretation to derive the location and outline of archaeological objects. However, the magnetic maps can yield more information; we present a two-step automatized interpretation scheme that enables us to infer the social structure from the magnetic map. First, we derive the magnetization distribution via inverse filtering by assuming a constant depth range for the building remains. Second, we quantify the building remains in terms of their total magnetic moment. In our field example, we consider this quantity as a proxy of household prosperity and its distribution as a social indicator. The inverse filtering approach is tested on synthetic data and cross-checked with a least-squares inversion. An extensive modeling study highlights the influence of depth and thickness of the layer for the filter construction. We deduce the rule of thumb that by choosing a rather too deep and too thick a layer, errors are smaller than for layers too low and too thin. The interpretation scheme is applied to the magnetic gradiometry map of the Chalcolithic Cucuteni–Tripolye site Maidanetske (Ukraine) that comprises the anomalies of about 2300 burned clay buildings. The buildings are arranged along concentric ellipses around an inner vacant space and a vacant ring. Buildings along this ring corridor have increased total magnetic moments. The total magnetic moment indicates the remaining building material and therefore the architecture. The example of Maidanetske provides convincing evidence that the inversion of magnetic data and the quantification of buildings in terms of their magnetic moments enables the investigation of the social structure within sites.


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