Friday, July 14, 2006

Remote sensing update LOW IMPACT: Technology helps archaeologists shrink footprints
In a lonely field a few feet from the shade of a towering Indian mound, a graying medicine man charts the progress of the crew probing his ancestral stomping grounds for ruins.

Tim Thompson, the soft-spoken spiritual leader for the ceremonial Hickory Ground, scribbles measurements on a crisp white tablet as a ground-penetrating radar system rolls across the grassy pasture, yielding a series of blips and dips on a colorless computer screen.

In a few days, the data they painstakingly record will be used to jot a map of ancient structures and relics buried deep in the sacred soil of the Etowah Indian Mounds site in northwest Georgia. Yet even if the data can pinpoint exactly where Native American artifacts are buried, Thompson would just as rather leave them alone.

Not a bad article. This part:

"Americans have no sense that this is their history," said Kent Reilly, a professor of anthropology at Texas State-San Marcos who studies the cultural and religious symbols. "There's nothing sadder than to lose your past. We ought to be proud of this."

If given the right to excavate, King said, he will use the most innocuous of techniques. Researchers would dig squares that are but one-meter-wide, 10-centimeters-deep over areas where research revealed there are likely relics.

is probably the best one could hope for. Even so, a few test pits would keep plenty of people busy. It's probably where archaeology is headed anyway, what with museums filling up, Indians becoming more assertive, and remote sensing and analytic techniques becoming better.