Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Differences of Scale - Similarities of Research Procedures: Archaeological Prospection in the ShAngqiu Area, Northern China & Itanos, Southern Greece

Magnetometers, multi-frequency electromagnetic induction sensors, multi-point electrical resistivity prospecting instruments and ground-penetrating radar have been employed jointly during 1992 and 1998 in Shangqiu area, northern China, an archaeologically important region of investigating the origin of Shang civilization. The study was supported as part of the collaborative projects "Archaeological Investigation of Early Shang Civilization in China" between Harvard University's Peabody Museum and the Institute of Archaeology, CASS. One of the most important achievements of the past years' intimate integration work of geological and geophysical team was the discovery of a buried Eastern Zhou (770-450 B.C.) city with rammed earth walls. Another joint campaign from the Institute for Mediterranean Studies (FORTH), the Technical University of Crete and the French Archaeological School of Athens has been concentrated in the geophysical mapping of archaeological remnants of the Hellenistic port of Itanos, NW Crete, since 1994. Seismic, magnetic, EM, resistivity, GPR and resistivity tomography surveys have mapped various portions of the archaeological site providing valuable information on the habitation patterns of the ancient settlement and its geomorphological setting. A joint research project that is carried out by members of the above teams from China and Greece aims towards the combination of high resolution geophysical and satellite data from Itanos. This kind of interaction brought up a number of differences in scale and similarities in research procedures that are followed in archaeological prospection. Field strategies in geophysical investigations from reconnaissance mapping to volume mapping, instruments and field procedure, data processing and interpretation, and merits and limitations of each technique are also discussed within their archaeological context, stressing the need of more comparative and joint research studies.

  • Apostolos Sarris