Current applications of geophysical prospection in Greek Archaeology

Dr. Carmern Cuenca-Garcia, University of Trondheim (NTNU)


magnetometer-survey-perdika-2Geophysical techniques can help us to remotely detect buried archaeological features (from the ground surface) without the need for excavation. The implementation of multi-technique and high-resolution geophysical surveys makes site exploration and discovery more rapid and informative in comparison with traditional prospection methods. Geophysical surveys can also be used to identify areas of interest within a site and help to focus the opening of trenches before archaeological interventions. Furthermore, integrated geophysical results can help in the archaeological interpretation of specific buried features and provide size, depth and make-up information in a fully non-destructive manner.

Recent technological developments in geophysical instrumentation, such as multi-sensor and multi-antenna array systems are providing even faster area coverage capacities and higher resolution in mapping buried features. These technological improvements have increased the cost-effectiveness of geophysical surveying and have revolutionised the discipline of archaeology by allowing landscape-wide approaches in archaeological prospection.

This presentation will show how geophysical techniques can be used to map and characterise Greek sites in both intra-site and large-scale area investigations. The talk will be illustrated with the results of recent surveys carried out over prehistoric magoules in Thessaly and ancient urban landscapes such as Demetrias and Mantineia. The challenges in surveying Mediterranean environments and strategies to integrate geophysical methods with other proxy techniques, will be discussed. The presentation will conclude by highlighting the new research directions followed in archaeo-geophysics with particular input in Greek archaeology.


Dr Carmen Cuenca-Garcia is an archaeo-geophysicist. Her expertise is in the development and implementation of integrated geophysical survey strategies to investigate archaeological sites in a non-destructive manner. She currently works as a postdoctoral fellow in Norway (Department of Archaeology and Cultural History of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim). She previously held a postdoctoral position in Crete (Laboratory of Geophysical-Satellite Remote Sensing & Archaeo-environment of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies-Foundation for Research and Technology, Rethymno). Carmen has worked in applied geophysics for eight years in Scotland, Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, Spain and Austria. She has a previous background of ~10 years in field archaeology and cultural-environmental impact assessments in the UK, France and Spain. She holds a PhD in archaeo-geophysics (University of Glasgow, Scotland), an MSc in Archaeological Prospection-Shallow Geophysics (University of Bradford, UK) and a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology and Prehistory (University of Valencia, Spain).