Ancient Roman remains in Israel provide a challenge for physical-archaeological modelling techniques
L.V. Eppelbaum, Z. Ben-Avraham and S.E. Itkis
Journal name: First Break
Issue: Vol 21, No 2, February 2003 pp. 51 - 61
Info: Article, PDF ( 1.25Mb )
Price: € 30
Israeli geoscientists Lev V. Eppelbaum, Zvi Ben-Avraham and Sonya E. Itkis provide an insight into some of the geophysical investigation options available for archaeological investigations of Ancient Rome in Israel. The territory of Israel, in spite of its comparatively small size (21 000 km2), is very attractive for archaeologists in view of its dramatic ancient and Biblical history. Many authors (for instance, Kenyon, 1979; Reich, 1992; Mayer, 1996) note that the location of archaeological sites on Israeli territory is the densest in the world. Ancient Roman remains total more than 10% of the total number of discovered archaeological objects. The Roman remains, according to accumulated experience, occur in the subsurface layer at a depth from 0.5 to 3 m and usually retain their initial correct (quasi-correct) geometrical shape. Geophysical methods have been successfully applied to the search and location of archaeological remains as a rapid, effective and non-invasive way to reveal a broad range of targets: buried walls, columns, foundations, chambers, water pipe systems and high temperature features (e.g. Aitken, 1974; Clark, 1986; Tsokas & Rocca, 1986; Vogell & Tsokas, 1993; Parasnis, 1997; Desvignes et al. 1999; Sambuelli et al. 1999; Gaffney et al. 2000; Eppelbaum et al. 2001). Barker (1982) emphasizes that ‘Unlike the study of ancient document, the study of a site by excavation is an unrepeatable experiment’. Geophysical non-invasive experiments, which apply methods basing on different physical principles and perform surveys on various scales with a range of locations for the sensor using different combinations of method, practically have no limitations. Geophysical surveys can provide a ground plan of cultural remains before excavations, or they may even be used instead of excavating. Road and plant construction work in Israel, as well as the selection of areas for various engineering and agricultural purposes, are usually preceded by detailed geophysical (first of all, magnetic) investigations. This is intended to help judge the possible archaeological significance of the area under scrutiny.