— post by Dr. Tanya Peres
In a perfect world all archaeological projects would proceed in textbook fashion with full funding. My ideal archaeological project would include a team of experienced specialists working together on the research design, fieldwork, lab analysis, and interpretations. I would say that this years MCAP Field School has come pretty close to that ideal — minus the full funding!
One of the important parts of our project was to conduct a geophysical survey to determine where we would locate our excavation units. Remote sensing is a term that covers a variety of techniques and applications of non-invasive site survey. The types of remote sensing we built into our research plan are all sub-surface and basically act like a CAT scan of the earth, allowing us to see anomalies below ground without digging.
In my perfect archaeological world, remote sensing activities would take place before any actual digging occurred. As life is never perfect, and rarely goes exactly according to plan, MCAP unfortunately did not receive the grant funds we applied for. However, we have been most fortunate to have generous colleagues that have donated their time, equipment, and in the case of remote-sensing, the cultural resources management firm Brockington Cultural Resources Consulting, sent two archaeologists and their GPR know-how! The archaeologists at Brockington felt this site is so important and well preserved, and GPR survey has rarely been done this type of site, that they donated the archaeologists’ time and effort to our cause. We are so excited and thankful for their generosity and expertise.
Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) allows us to “see” anomalies under-ground and then to ground-truth them. Since we conducted this survey this week, at the end of our current field season, we will do a few preliminary tests on some of the “hot spots.” If we are able to return to this site in the future, we will use these data to inform where our excavations will go.
The preliminary “in-the-field” results are exciting and have piqued my curiosity. The other great think about this survey was the chance for the MTSU MCAP Field School students to be involved. Dave Baluha and Niki Mills were excellent teachers — the students thank them for the experience and opportunity! The archaeologists with Brockington will analyze the data and put it into map form. We will then discuss the implications of the data and hopefully present our findings at a regional professional archaeology conference in the fall and publish it in a professional journal. Stay tuned for more information on the results!