Three-dimensional GPR study of a prehistoric site in Barbados, West Indies

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Department or Administrative Unit

Anthropology and Museum Studies

Publication Date



Prior results of surface artifact collecting, test excavations, and auger sampling on an archaeological site in Barbados suggested that we experiment with ground-penetrating radar (GPR) as a method to target areas for future study. The site is associated with village occupations of Amerindians that are dated to between ∼2000 and 500 years ago. Archaeological features include burials, hearths, ceramic lined wells and postholes. Artifact middens contain pottery sherds, conch shells, and other marine resource debris. The site selected was located at the southern tip of Barbados and is situated on a deep stabilized surface behind a large active dune system. The soil layer consists of dry, clean quartz sand.

We obtained limited ground truth at the site by hand auguring in areas of field-identified anomalies, and by auguring control holes away from anomalies. Anomalies were usually large diffractors such as conch shells and rocks. We used 3D visualisation software to perform standard processing enhancements and to assemble the parallel lines into three-dimensional volumes. The dimensions, distribution, and shapes of time-sliced amplitude anomalies were consistent with those of previously excavated burials, poles, and pit structures. In particular, we interpret the data as indicating the presence of a circular house structure with four center posts; this structure was previously unknown at this site. The work presented here builds upon and extends earlier excavation-based findings at this site, and will allow for better-focused excavations in the future.


This article was originally published in Journal of Applied Geophysics. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Applied Geophysics


© 2001 Published by Elsevier Science B.V