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Remote Sensing as Community Settlement Analysis at Moundville

  • Jera R. Davis (a1), Chester P. Walker (a2) and John H. Blitz (a1)


Remote sensing has revolutionized procedures for locating buried features at archaeological sites in eastern North America. However, the potential of instruments such as gradiometers to shape innovative research in ways that move beyond survey and testing is not always realized in practice. At the Mississippian site of Moundville, Alabama, we conducted a landscape-scale geophysical survey to serve as the guiding method of community settlement analysis. First, we mapped the distribution of magnetic anomalies across the site. Next, we defined the variability of anomalies and selected a sample for test excavations to correlate specific anomaly shapes and amplitudes with specific cultural features. Once confirmed as cultural features, we extrapolated sample results to identify unexcavated anomalies as specific building forms and other features with a higher degree of probability than would have been possible without confirmation by test excavation. Results include the identification and mapping of over 450 unexcavated probable buildings, nearly five times the number previously discovered in decades of traditional excavation. Because the buried probable buildings have different forms, sizes, distributions, and chronological spans, the interpreted gradiometer map is transformed through interpretation from a static palimpsest of anomalies to a picture of changing community settlement organization.

La teledetección ha revolucionado los procedimientos usados para la localización de estructuras enterradas en los sitios arqueológicos del este de Norteamérica. Sin embargo, el potencial de algunos instrumentos para modelar la investigación innovadora deformas que van más allá de los sondeos y pruebas no siempre ha sido apreciado. En el sitio de Moundville, en Alabama, hemos llevado a cabo un estudio geofísico a nivel de paisaje que nos sirva como método de guía para el análisis de asentamientos comunales. En primer lugar, hemos mapeado la distribución de las anomalías magnéticas a lo largo del sitio. A continuación, hemos definido la variabilidad de las anomalías y seleccionado una muestra sobre la que realizar excavaciones de prueba para correlar las formas y amplitudes de las anomalías con características culturales específicas. Una vez confirmadas como rasgosculturales, hemos extrapolado unos resultados de muestra para identificar las anomalías no excavadas como formas edificadas específicas y otrascaracterísticas, con un grado de acierto mayor del que hubiera sido posible sin la confirmación por excavaciones de prueba. Los resultados incluyen la identificación y el mapeo de más de 450 probables edificios no excavados, casi cinco veces más de lo descubierto durante décadas de excavación tradicional. Debido a que los edificios probables enterrados tienen distintas formas, tamaños, distribuciones, y representan períodos cronológicos diferentes, el mapa gradiométrico interpretado se transforma, a través de la interpretación, de un palimpsesto estático de anomalías, auna imagen de la organización del asentamiento comunal cambiante.



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Remote Sensing as Community Settlement Analysis at Moundville

  • Jera R. Davis (a1), Chester P. Walker (a2) and John H. Blitz (a1)


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