Inferring Iroquoian Architectural Variability from Magnetic Gradiometry

Author(s): Megan Conger; Jennifer Birch

Year: 2018


Magnetic gradiometry is an affordable and preservation-minded method to detect a wide range of subsurface features at historic and prehistoric archaeological sites. Horizontal excavation is the only way to confirm the nature of features detected by magnetic gradiometry, but in some cases may be impossible or undesirable. Excavation-based understandings of local architectural practices can be used to infer the nature of magnetic anomalies, as long as those understandings encompass the full range of architectural variability that may reasonably be expected. Magnetic gradiometry was conducted at three sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Iroquoian villages in Ontario, Canada: Spang, Trent-Foster, and Hamilton-Lougheed. A search of extant excavation records was conducted to characterize the range of architectural variability likely to be found on these sites, including structure dimensions, hearth placement, and wall construction techniques. The different kinds of anomalies that these structural variations might present in magnetic gradiometry data were reproduced, and compared to actual data collected from the three sites. Based on these expectations and the identified anomalies, significant intersite and intrasite architectural variability is inferred. This approach has general methodological utility for interpreting subsurface anomalies in magnetic gradiometry data in the Eastern Woodlands and other areas with similar soil conditions and architectural traditions.

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Inferring Iroquoian Architectural Variability from Magnetic Gradiometry. Megan Conger, Jennifer Birch. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442755)

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Abstract Id(s): 20878