When researching archaeological sites located in a largely populated area, you have to decide where to excavate to get the best results. Here, ground-penetrating radars (GPRs) will come to help scientists! This technology has been used by the military since the 1970s and became available approximately in the mid-1980s.
The modern GPR is a complex electronic device, the components of which perform the following functions:
• formation of pulses emitted by the transmitting antenna;
• processing signals from the receiving antenna;
• synchronization of the entire system.
The antenna part includes a transmitting and receiving antenna. A recording unit is a laptop or other recording device, and the system of cables and optoelectronic converters plays the role of a control unit.
With the help of GDR, it is possible to scan the subsurface. Let’s dwell upon some noticeable archaeological findings, that would never happen without the GeoRadar.
In the Franciscan Cathedral of Krakow, researchers discovered a previously unknown tomb, using a ground-penetrating radar. The burial was over 400 years old, located in the catacombs of the cathedral. According to the report, there were 20 coffins in very good condition in the tomb. Presumably, the catacombs have a second lower level. This unique find can give historians a new look at the medieval world.
In 2016, British archaeologists reported the discovery of the alleged grave of King Henry I using a GeoRadar. According to historians, the burial is located under a parking lot in the Reading Prison, which used to belong to the monastery of the same name.
Avebury, a religious site near Stonehenge, is best known for its stone circle, the largest in Europe. In 2017, archaeologists found that inside one of its inner circles an earlier square structure is situated. It became possible using the ground-penetrating radar. This square dates back to about 3500 BC.
Using GDR, in 2018, a burial ship was found in the Norwegian province of Estfall. As you know, according to tradition, great Scandinavian warriors - the Vikings - were buried in the ship, and one of these barrow ships was just discovered by Norwegian scientists - the 20-meter Jellstad ship, at a depth of only 50 cm. According to archaeologists, the find is more than 1500 years old.
The Viking grave was found using a special radar that penetrates to a shallow depth. In addition to the preserved burial ship, the radar found the remains of 7 other burials that were destroyed by plowing the soil. However, scientists are not planning to excavate yet, wanting to create a digital map of ancient burials beforehand.
New technology is completely changing the fields of history and archaeology, as the use of innovations like the Ground Penetrating Radar results in new discoveries all over the world. We look at ancient sites, burials and constructions more thoroughly to find new items in previously excavated areas.
“I keep being surprised by the amount of archaeological sites and features that are left to find all over the world.” Sarah Parcak