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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ground-Based Remote Sensing and Excavations at a Middle Woodland Platform Mound (1LA111) in Lawrence County, Alabama
by Rael, Travis, M.S., The University of Alabama in Huntsville, 2019, 83; 22584108
Abstract (Summary)

A common goal of many archaeological studies is to locate anthropogenic features, which provide occupational and chronological information. Anomalies detected in ground-based geophysical remote sensing data assist in locating such features and provide guidance for placement of excavations. Research conducted on a large platform mound located in northwest Alabama utilized a quantitative method for detecting and interpreting anomalies in gradiometer data collected on the structure’s summit. Results from systematical ground truthing and subsequent excavations of several of the anomalies suggest that this method provides an effective approach for locating areas containing significant subsurface archaeological deposits within the mound. Soil core tests conducted to depths ranging from 120 to 230 centimeters below the surface at 20 randomly sampled anomalies identified eight locations containing materials indicative of feature fill such as bone, fired clay, ash, sand layers, carbonized plant remains, and soil color and texture changes. An excavation unit placed over a core-tested anomaly yielding bone fragments revealed an historic grave shaft. Another excavation unit positioned atan anomaly location producing fired clay and a layer of sand in the core test exposed a Middle Woodland burial pit containing at least one individual interred with a large copper gorget. Two radiocarbon essays generated from charred nutshell collected from beneath the gorget and from pit fill produced overlapping Middle Woodland dates. Consequently, this method allowed researchers to investigate significant features that revealed important information regarding prehistoric and historic activities conducted on the mound summit.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Griffin, Robert, Sever, Thomas
Commitee: Little, Keith
School: The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Department: Atmospheric Science
School Location: United States -- Alabama
Source: MAI 81/2(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Remote sensing, Archaeology
Keywords: Ceremonial, Excavation, Gradiometer, Middle Woodland, Platform mound, Remote sensing
Publication Number: 22584108
ISBN: 9781085665148
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