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The Untapped Potential of Magnetic Survey in the Identification of Precontact Archaeological Sites in Wooded Areas

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2017

Lisa Hodgetts
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, The University of Western Ontario, Social Science Centre, London ON, N6A 5C2, Canada (lisa.hodgetts@uwo.ca)
Jean-Francois Millaire
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, The University of Western Ontario, Social Science Centre, London ON, N6A 5C2, Canada (jean-francois.millaire@uwo.ca)
Edward Eastaugh
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, The University of Western Ontario, Social Science Centre, London ON, N6A 5C2, Canada (eeastaug@uwo.ca)
Claude Chapdelaine
Affiliation:
Département d’anthropologie, Université de Montréal, Pavillion Lionel-Groulx, 3150 Jean-Brillant, Montréal QC, H3T 1N8, Canada (claude.chapdelaine@umontreal.ca)

Abstract

Evaluating the archaeological potential of wooded areas is often difficult because many of the techniques archaeologists commonly use to locate and map archaeological sites elsewhere are less effective in the trees. Ground cover hinders the visual identification of surface artifacts during pedestrian survey, and the tree canopy impedes many of the techniques used to map areas of interest, such as optical theodolites and DGPS. Shovel test pitting, which disturbs the integrity of sites and provides limited contextual information, is the most common method used to evaluate woodlots today. In light of increasing interest from Indigenous peoples in limiting the impact of archaeological work on their cultural heritage, we are testing less invasive methods to locate and map archaeological sites within wooded areas. Here, we present the results of a magnetic susceptibility survey on a wooded precontact site in southern Quebec, where the technique rapidly determined site limits and pinpointed the location of several longhouses and other features. Where geological conditions are suitable, this method could considerably reduce the cost and impact of archaeological assessment and investigation of wooded sites by both cultural resource management (CRM) and academic archaeologists.

L’évaluation du potentiel archéologique dans les zones boisées est souvent ardue à cause de la présence des arbres qui réduisent de beaucoup l’efficacité des techniques couramment utilisées pour localiser et cartographier les sites archéologiques. Le couvert végétal rend difficile l’identification visuelle des artefacts en surface et le couvert forestier bloque les signaux utilisés par un grand nombre de techniques de cartographie comme les théodolites optiques et les GPS différentiels. La méthode la plus couramment utilisée aujourd’hui dans les zones boisées est la prospection par sondage, une technique qui perturbe les restes archéologiques et fournit peu d’information contextuelle. Conscients de l’intérêt croissant des peuples autochtones pour limiter l’impact des travaux archéologiques sur leur patrimoine culturel, nous avons testé des méthodes moins invasives pour localiser et cartographier les sites archéologiques dans les zones boisées. Nous présenterons ici les résultats de travaux de télédétection dans un boisé du sud du Québec où une prospection par susceptibilité magnétique nous a permis de rapidement déterminer les limites d’un site pré-contact et de localiser plusieurs maisons longues et autres structures archéologiques. Là où les conditions géologiques sont favorables, cette méthode pourrait considérablement réduire le coût et l’impact des interventions archéologiques dans les zones boisées dans le cadre de travaux d’archéologie contractuelle ou académique.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2016

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