Mapping anthropogenic fill with GPR for unmarked grave detection: a case study from a possible location of Mokare's grave, Albany, Western Australia

Paul Bladon, Ian Moffat, David Guilfoyle, Alice Beale, Jennifer Milani

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Geophysical techniques are a commonly used, non-invasive method for the location of unmarked graves. Contrary to popular perception, most studies rely not on directly imaging skeletal material but instead on locating the subsurface disturbance created by grave digging. This approach is effective only when sufficient contrast exists between detectable properties (such as structure, mineralogy or porosity) of the grave fill and the surrounding sediment. Resolving these features can be particularly problematic in disturbed areas where other anthropogenic fill is in place, as it is often complex in character and lacks a natural stratigraphy. In many cultural heritage projects, it is often more important to ensure that burials are not disturbed rather than to specifically locate them. Under these circumstances, ground penetrating radar (GPR) can be used to locate modern anthropogenic fill. This may show which areas of the site are younger than the targeted graves and therefore of no archaeological interest. This approach is trialled on a site thought to contain the grave of Mokare, a significant historical figure in the colonial settlement of the Albany area in Western Australia. The delineation of a package of modern fill in the shallow subsurface in the context of the probable history of earthworks on the site demonstrates that Mokare is not buried in the surveyed location. This approach, applied to suitable sites, could contribute to culturally sensitive non-invasive investigation of burial sites in other locations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)249-257
    Number of pages9
    JournalExploration Geophysics
    Volume42
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping anthropogenic fill with GPR for unmarked grave detection: a case study from a possible location of Mokare's grave, Albany, Western Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this