Viewing the Subsurface in 3D: Sediment Tomography for (Geo-)Archaeological Prospection in Palpa, Southern Peru

  • Stefan Hecht
Part of the Natural Science in Archaeology book series (ARCHAEOLOGY)


This contribution focuses on the application of geophysical methods for geoarchaeological prospection. At first, methodological bases of sediment tomography are presented, especially the use of earth resistivity tomography (ERT) and seismic refraction tomography (SRT) in case of on-site and off-site studies. Then, the results of the measurements within the Nasca–Palpa project are explained in more detail. The results of the measurements at Jauranga show that one strength of the earth resistivity tomography is the possibility to separate different types of fluvial sediments, whereas the seismic velocities give valuable information about the bedrock and the thickness of the overlying loose sediments wherein archaeological findings could be clearly identified. Former loam excavation pits could be detected by the specific use of 3D tomographies. The comparsion of 2D and 3D geoelectric data at Yunama showed a very good agreement between the different datasets. Several former soil surfaces could be reconstructed, that were covered subsequently by high-flood sediments of the River Palpa. We present the results of the geoelectric measurements at the archaeological site PAP-83(PV66-057) in comparison to the results of archaeological excavations. Anomalies of extremely high resistivity values could be identified as layers of straw mats, whereas relatively lower resistivity values represent adjacent adobe walls. The results of all 2D and 3D geoelectric tomographies are validated clearly by the archaeological excavations.


Fluvial Sediment Archaeological Excavation Archaeological Finding Loose Sediment Fluvial Terrace 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Hecht
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geography, University of Heidelberg69120 HeidelbergGermany

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