TreasureHunter3D detectors help archaeologists increase the chance of success

TreasureHunter3D detectors help archaeologists increase the chance of success

April 14, 2018


Cahuachi – Nazca, Peru

In today's blog we are posting an interview with archeologist Thomas A Gara who is in last years mostly focused on prospecting ancient sites in Bolivia and Peru. Thomas will explain why 3d metal detectors are so important to archeologists & how they use them in practice.

How important are 3D metal detectors in your archaeological work?

3D metal detectors are extremely useful in finding sites, determining their size and configurations and deciding where to excavate for the best results.

The practical effectiveness of this tool is to survey (map) an area for under-earth remnants of ancient activities and constructions. This reduces time and cost of excavation by determining, not only, where to dig, but if one should dig and, hopefully, improves the results of those efforts.

So much of Archaeology today is done in the laboratory, by the examinations of earth and seabed cores, for example. Laboratory examinations can tell us about climate, rainfall, meteorite encounters, flora and fauna during different epochs. A tooth can tell us about diet, health and age of an individual. It can provide DNA and indicators of disease and genetic developments and disorders. The truth is that the most exciting and important discoveries are found in the laboratories. That being said, the first step is discovery. The raw materials, found and preserved, with contextual information, that folks, outdoors in the sun and rain or deep in caves or underwater, provide us for our better understanding of our heritage.

Prospecting at Pikillacta, Peru

How do you use them in practice?

I generally use the 3D mode first. After determining where to survey, we mark off an area of about 20 sq meters with measuring tapes or cords demarcated at 1 meter and 20 cm intervals. With the instrument we walk the 20m lines at 20cm spacing (for fine resolution). The SmartPhone produces an image as we walk and will give us information regarding the under-earth possibilities. The final image we then save and transmit to our PC for later review and manipulation such as placing the scan image over a map or photo of the area. This helps us to visualize what is there and where else we might look. These images are of immense help in producing informative field reports and funding proposals for further work.

What do you like most about TreasureHunter3D detectors?

This instrument is a very useful and practical tool for the archaeologist. It is easy to transport and use, light weight and offers several effective modes to determine what is under the earth.

Instruments of this nature are already used by your public works departments to find electrical and gas lines under streets (you have no doubt seen their marks on the sidewalks of your city) and police departments in their forensic efforts. The technology is tried and true. TreasureHunter3D has brought the instrumentation and post survey capabilities to a new cost effective high.

Uyuni - Bolivia

Where is the difference between treasure hunters and archeologists?

The essential difference between a treasure hunter and an archaeologist is context. A treasure hunter focuses on the object, usually metal with some mediate collector or intrinsic value. An Archaeologist, as already mentioned, finds immense value in the context of the find (the layer of earth being examined is an important dating factor), associated objects, areas that may have had a specific use such as: cooking, smelting of ores, butchering of animals, or production of tools and weapons etc..

We can determine a settlement’s configuration and where the most informative areas are before we actually start to dig. Examples would be: Fire pits where food processing was done, yielding ceramics, food ruminants such as bones and seeds.  Smelting of ores and metal smithing also leave characteristic magnetic signatures due to the heating of the furnaces. We also find foundation outlines, graves and midden pits (garbage pits that are goldmines of information) that reveal the flora and fauna of the area that are also indicators of climate. These pits indicate what foods were consumed, how they were prepared, the ceramic technology and the spiritual iconography on discarded objects and pottery.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with us or our customers?

I am looking forward to the new drone that you are developing. I hope that it will be able to survey large areas with minimal pilot input (pre-programed survey patterns). This product is really revolutionary and will save field archaeologist a lot of time and effort. 

I hope TreasureHunter3D will also think about option of LiDAR survey capabilities (Light Detection and Ranging) which would be a tremendous advance for the field archaeologist. LiDAR is a laser technology that can “see” through/under vegetative canopies, jungles and forest, to view the actual underlying topography. Recently, in northern Guatemala, a 600 sq mile LiDAR survey discovered a Mayan “Megalopolis” under the jungle canape, effectively expanding the estimated Mayan population from 1.5 million to 12 million people by identifying the ruins of 60,000 houses, temples, palaces and highways.  So, I am very much looking forward to working with this new tool.

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