From June 6-23, 2006, NCPTT partnered with the NPS Midwest Archeology Center, the NPS Cultural Resources GIS laboratory, the University of Mississippi, and Northwestern State University of Louisiana to hold its first training program on non-destructive archeological prospection techniques. This intensive workshop is unique in that it uses data from an ongoing, mature grant-funded research project to provide hands-on training in the integration of GIS, GPS, and remote sensing technology. By collaborating with academic researchers, moreover, the training event offered an unparalleled opportunity to combine data collection with field testing. Four instructors and 10 participants from all over the country used the St. Anne and Whittington plantation sites as learning laboratories.

“Prospection in Depth” forms the basis for NCPTT’s first approach to an online, interactive training module. The web site chronicles the interwoven prospection and testing results of the Summer Institute participants and instructors, plus the excavation efforts of the research teams funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.K. Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The 2006 fieldwork marks the third and most intensive season of excavations undertaken as part of the academic research project. Consequently, Summer Institute ground-truthing occurs within a well-documented historical, archival, and archaeological set of contexts, making the training experience all the more robust. The Summer Institute participants and instructors together tested some 11 square meters covering key geophysical anomalies. Then the international team of 11 researchers went on to excavate and additional 89 square meters as units and some 6 square meters as 75 shovel tests.

The preliminary field results are presented on the NCPTT website, so that “Prospection in Depth” participants and other interested people can learn from this unique fusion of technological training and traditional research. The archaeological public is encouraged to join the teams in this endeavor by ground-truthing the remote sensing data themselves. The public is invited to:

  • select a site to explore
  • examine the remote sensing data
  • compare anomalies with excavation unit and/or shovel test locations
  • virtually excavate the unit or shovel test in question by studying the context (excavation) forms, plan view drawings, profile drawings, and photographs

This approach to geophysical prospection training is unique pedagogically, too.

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