Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 5 - helicopters, radar, and X-rays (oh my!) ...

The fifth week of our 2011 field campaign was abuzz with activity. In addition to our ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Gabii, the project continues to collect data by additional means. As in past years, we carried out a pass of aerial photography on-site via helicopter (thanks to Sgr. Italo Marini of the Fly Roma School) in order to see our work from a different angle. The utility of aerial photography in archaeology has long been proven and, in the case of urban sites such as Gabii, it is especially useful for recognizing alignments and orientations within the site. Happily, thanks to our surveying capabilities the aerial photographs can be orthorectified and incorporated into the Gabii GIS - super exciting!

Our intrepid field director Anna Gallone on the helicopter mission to take aerial photos of Gabii.
Our technological saturation only increased as the week went on as we were happy to benefit from the presence of specialist colleagues from Roma Tre University and Davidson College, respectively. From Roma Tre we welcomed Professor Elena Pettinelli and her team from the physics department who this week began additional tests using ground penetrating radar (GPR) at Gabii. This geophysical technique recognizes archaeology and geologic features by creating subsurface radar profiles and our project is beginning to test the effectiveness of GPR at Gabii as a guide to better understanding the site. Our physics colleagues were even generous enough to come out to Frascati and talk to our group about physics and its applications for archaeology.   

Elena Pettinelli from Roma Tre University.

We were also happy to welcome Prof. Ruth Beeston from the Chemistry Department at Davidson College in North Carolina. In conjunction with Hilary Becker, Ruth was in Italy to carry out XRF testing in the lab of the University of Michigan / University of Calabria project in the Area Sacra di Sant'Omobono in Rome and she was generous enough to come to Gabii with her XRF equipment. The handheld XRF equipment is used for conducting elemental analyses and Ruth's day of testing at Gabii included samples of human bones along with other specimens, including geologic ones. Adding XRF testing to our arsenal of investigative strategies is a boon to the research agenda of the Gabii Project.

Ruth Beeston and Austin Raymond in the lab at Gabii.

Davidson College crew at Gabii: Will Milvaney, Hilary Becker, Austin Raymond, and Ruth Beeston.

With all of this flying, zapping, and radar-ing, we would be remiss if we did not mention the excellent progress made in terms of excavation at Gabii. Our teams continued to make progress in all of our excavation areas, something that was evident to all of our visitors this week, including the local inspector of the archaeological service. As we move on to the sixth, and final, week of the 2011 campaign we continue to derive great excitement from our students and sharing with them the process of discovery at Gabii. 

No comments: