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Radio wave techniques for non-destructive archaeological investigations

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Geophysical techniques can be effectively applied to produce an image of buried targets in a host medium, through the detection of the 'boundaries' between materials having different values of a specific physical property. Over the last 30 years these methods have been increasingly used to detect the presence of archaeological ruins in the subsurface, thus reducing extensive, destructive, time consuming and expensive excavations. Recently, ground penetrating radar (GPR) has become the most important physical technique in archaeological investigations (allowing for the detection of archaeological targets with both very high vertical and horizontal resolution) and has been successfully applied also to diagnostic purposes in historical buildings and monuments. In this article an overview of the use of radio waves in archaeology is presented, first introducing the main physical concepts of GPR, then presenting some examples of its application to detect ancient buried structures, showing the potential and the limits of such a method.

Keywords: archaeological investigations; non-destructive techniques; radio waves; ground penetrating radar (GPR)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Physics Department, “E. Amaldi”, Universita Roma Tre, Rome, Italy

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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