Information systems and ad hoc workflow models as viable applications to improve the pre-excavation detection of characteristic human interments

Authors: Green, Cheetham, P. and Darvill, T.

Conference: CAA International

Dates: 14-16 March 2017


The detection of large targets (e.g., field boundaries, agricultural systems, and settlements) by geophysical survey and remote sensing is relatively uncomplicated in comparison to detecting human interments. This research aims to produce an information system to automatically or semi-automatically detect signatures characteristic of archetypical human interments, thereby increasing the confidence of obtaining true positive and true negative results. By developing an ad hoc workflow model to determine the appropriate technical survey parameters while accounting for environmental factors, it is hoped to offer the highest probability of detecting burial(s) in a given survey with respect to environmental factors and the nature of the target. The information system will employ algorithms adapted from pattern recognition approaches for geological and seismic surveys, Hough Transforms, and additional linear feature extraction methods where applicable, and a key based on data collected from sample geophysical and remote sensing surveys of medieval and experimental interments in southwest England and Ireland and archived data. Results to date of this ongoing doctoral research project are to be presented, with the characterised ‘signatures’ being: amplitude, magnitude, and top- and side-view morphologies. By detecting human internments during the pre-excavation stage of an investigation, archaeologists are able to maximise the recovery potential of any human remains while also informing excavation and post-excavation strategies.

Source: Manual