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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Assessing the utility of ground penetrating radar in archaeology on the Northwest Coast : the 'new wave', 'all Snell', or 'it just hertz'? Dojack, Lisa Marie


This project investigates the application of ground penetrating radar (GPR), a remote sensing geophysical survey method, to the archaeological investigation of earthen architecture on the Northwest Coast of North America. The objective of this thesis is to assess the ability of GPR to detect and distinguish between architectural features within an earthen matrix, and to understand the limitations and uncertainties of the method in this and similar contexts. This thesis also assesses the ability of GPR to provide data that are able to contribute to broad anthropological questions of demographic change and socio-political complexity. GPR was used at Welqámex (DiRi-15), a Stó:lō-Coast Salish settlement near Hope, British Columbia, to collect nearly 1,000 m2 of data over a minimum of 11 structures. GPR data were analysed with comparison to surface and subsurface data from Welqámex, including excavation data collected prior to and following GPR survey. The survey identified 157 anomalies that may be useful in guiding future excavations. Direct comparisons of GPR reflection profiles and amplitude slices with excavation stratigraphic profiles and plan views indicate that GPR is moderately successful in detecting sqémél floors, s’iltexwáwtxw floors, and pit features larger than 15 cm in diameter, but is not successful in detecting post and stake mold features larger than 15 cm in diameter, hearth features, and structure boundaries. The anomalies produced from these features, however, are not easily distinguished from one another or from other natural and archaeological features. The results suggest that while GPR is able to identify anomalies that may be useful in guiding archaeological excavation, it is at this time not an ideal method for addressing broader anthropological questions on its own.

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