Review of geophysical applications in Australian archaeology

01st June 2012

An example of electrical resistance tomography (ERT) on the historic St Michaels Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida

An example of electrical resistance tomography (ERT) on the historic St Michaels Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida

Multidisciplinary approaches are now commonplace in the investigation of archaeological sites worldwide. Consequently, geophysics has become an increasingly important tool for reconstructing past landscapes and investigating research questions. However, despite their acceptance internationally, in Australia the use of geophysical techniques on archaeological sites has been underutilised. This paper examines the history of archaeological geophysics in Australia and seeks to understand, given their potential advantages, the role that factors such as costs, time, instrument availability and lack of theoretical knowledge have played in the underrepresentation of these methods in local archaeological investigations to date. With the recent introduction of short courses in archaeological geophysics to at least one Australian tertiary institution, this review is a timely overview of where this discipline has been, what it has to offer and whether there is potential for Australian archaeologists to develop the skills necessary to conduct archaeological geophysic investigations, as their international counterparts do already, in the future.

Kelsey Lowe
Review of geophysical applications in Australian archaeology
June 2012
74
71-84
Article
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