A team of archaeologists from Dartmouth's Department of Anthropology have been awarded a Neukom Institute CompX grant to support remote sensing of ancient settlements in the Upper Connecticut River Valley.
The project will leverage the power of a new generation of "large array" terrestrial geophysical instruments, alongside drone aerial imaging, to undertake an archaeological reconnaissance survey in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, with the goal of locating and mapping traces of ancient Native American settlements. Prior to the colonization of the Upper Valley by Euro-Americans, historical sources suggest that the region was occupied by ancestors of the Western Abenaki tribes, with the large settlement of Cowass located within the vicinity of Newbury, Vermont, and many other villages spread throughout the rich agricultural landscape. However, scant archaeological evidence of pre-Columbian settlement has been found to date, likely because remains of past habitation can easily be obscured by vegetation, sedimentation, and farming practices. In order to locate otherwise invisible traces of past settlement in the Upper Valley, this project will undertake geophysical surveys across large areas of the landscape. Archaeologists rely on geophysical surveys—magnetic gradiometry, ground-penetrating radar, or earth resistivity—to document subsurface remains of past human activities. Magnetic gradiometry, which measures minute differences in the strength of local magnetic fields, is the most widely used and versatile archaeo-geophysical technology, with the potential to reveal a wide range of cultural features up to 2m below the surface, including architecture, hearths or kilns, metallic objects, fired pottery or bricks, as well as pits, ditches, fields, or pathways.
The project team includes Jesse Casana (Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology), Madeleine McLeester (SPARCL Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Anthropology), Jon Alperstein (EEES PhD program), as well as several undergraduates and community members. For more information on this project, contact Jesse Casana.
CompX supports computational research across the campus and professional schools. This program seeks to fund both the development of novel computational techniques as well as the application of computational methods to problems in the Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts.