Of Mud and Magnets: Archaeometric Prospection at the Site of Altica

Author(s): Andrés Mejía Ramón; Luis Barba

Year: 2017


The Formative Period site of Altica in the Patlachique range poses many problems when designing an excavation strategy. Three millennia of erosion, and centuries of chisel plowing have eviscerated the site, removing any traces of architecture and in situ remains above the tepetate (local bedrock). As such, in the early stages of the Altica Project, the primary concern was the detection and identification of sub-surface remains inside intact bedrock-incised pits. In most archaeological sites, the simplest way to do this would be using geophysical apparatuses such as a ground-penetrating radar or a soil electric resistance meter. Although it is located at the top of a hill, strong, frequent localized rain frequently flooded the terraces of interest for days on end, making it impossible to detect subsurface features using the aforementioned methods. Because of these limitations, we were forced to exclusively use magnetic gradient prospection--with largely successful results--to detect sub-surface pits. This paper will discuss the method used, the various difficulties encountered during prospection, and the results of the magnetometric study.

Cite this Record

Of Mud and Magnets: Archaeometric Prospection at the Site of Altica. Andrés Mejía Ramón, Luis Barba. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429683)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15377