Archaeological geophysics involves the measurement of certain physical properties in the near-surface (uppermost 1-2 meters) of the earth in order to detect and characterize buried archaeological features. Geophysical data are collected by moving an instrument across the landscape, most often in evenly spaced parallel transects. These measurements are then compiled into a database and displayed as images.
All geophysical methods rely on differences, or contrast, between archaeological features and their immediate surroundings (background or matrix). When contrast is sufficient, an anomaly is produced. Anomalies are areas in a geophysical data set that contrast with surrounding measurements, and are called “anomalies” until they can be otherwise identified. Anomalies can be either positive, negative, or both, and all of these anomaly types can indicate cultural features.
Geophysical Survey »
-Portions of text in the above links were taken from a guide written by Dr. Ernenwein of Foxfire Geophysics and Dr. Michael Hargrave (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). Download PDF: Archaeological Geophysics for DoD Field Use