Petra Upper MarketGPR showing structurePetra Excavation

Abstract and Notes



Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) Mapping as a method for planning excavation strategies, Petra, Jordan


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Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is the only near-surface geophysical tool that can make three-dimensional maps and images of the subsurface at archaeological sites.  The technique involves transmitting radar waves from a surface antenna, reflecting them off buried discontinuities and measuring the elapsed time before the reflections are received again at the surface.   When many linear transects of reflections are collected in a grid, with many reflections recorded every second, a three-dimensional "cube" of reflections derived from buried features and related stratigraphy are visible.  At the Petra Garden site in Jordan, GPR maps and images were used as a guide to excavations.   A number of buried buildings were discovered, as well as stratigraphic horizons that were later found to contain evidence of ancient gardens.  Archaeological information from the test trenches whose locations were chosen using GPR maps was then used to calibrate the GPR reflections, effectively testing the accuracy of the method, which proved to be excellent. The GPR data were not only successful in guiding excavation strategy, but when integrated with information from the excavations, will be used to make detailed maps of many areas of the site that will likely remained buried.

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    Author's notes:  If you would like to try processing some GPR data from Petra you may download processing software, instructions and data from this site.  Click here to access that site. 


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Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved.
Lawrence B. Conyers, University of Denver · · 303.871.2684
Eileen G. Ernenwein, University of Arkansas ·
Leigh-Ann Bedal, University of New York, Erie ·