Archeological Services

We have over 15 years of experience in conducting geophysical surveys at archaeological sites.  Geophysics can provide an efficient, non-invasive, and more importantly cost effective view of archaeological features in the subsurface.  HGI can provide geophysical surveys uniquely tailored to the individual’s requirements, ranging from identifying locations of particular artifacts to providing site wide characterization.

Performing a magnetic survey at Chavin de Huantar, Peru.

HGI uses a variety of geophysical survey techniques to produce high-resolution maps of archaeological features and artifacts.  We have extensive experience performing geophysical surveys of archaeological sites in North America, South America, and Europe.

The following example is an electrical resistivity survey over the sunken Major Plaza at Chavin de Huantar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Peru.  The aim of the investigation was to identify subsurface passageways and drainage channels, referred to locally as galleries and canals respectively, known to exist across the site.  These occurred as empty void spaces (see image below), or were in-filled with sediments presenting resistive or conductive targets compared to the background. Dimensions and depth below surface of these features varied over the site.

Top: Fence plot of the 2D electrical resistivity model results; main feature of interest was the linear resistive (warm colors) anomaly running through the E-W transects in the NW corner of the plaza identified as an air filled canal. Middle: Photograph taken inside one of the air filled canal structures, average dimensions 1m tall by 0.5m wide (left), acquiring electrical resistivity data in the Major Plaza (right). Bottom: Overview of the sunken Major Plaza, looking to the east (survey area is highlighted in red).

In addition, HGI has experience of the typical high resolution variants of popular shallow engineering geophysical instruments (Geoscan resistivity probes and fluxgate magnetometers for example) typically used to map buried archaeology rapidly.

Magnetic gradiometer data collected at the Roman town of Viroconium (modern day Wroxeter), England, surveyed area was concentrated in the south of the town.