North America: GPR Surveying at Historic Cemeteries

  • Dean Goodman
  • Salvatore Piro
Part of the Geotechnologies and the Environment book series (GEOTECH, volume 9)


GPR remote sensing has found one its most successful archaeological applications in the discovery and mapping of historic burial sites in North America (Doolittle et al. 2010; Bevan 1991; Conyers 2006; King et al. 1993). One of the first applications of GPR in cemeteries for discovering unmarked graves were initiated nearly four decades ago by Bevan and Kenyon 1975. The primary motivation for GPR surveys has often been to assist in the mitigation of sites by helping to detect the presence of unmarked burials. Cemeteries have come under constant pressure from development projects and knowing the areal extent of cemeteries in prime land areas has been crucial. Many cemeteries which are not under developmental pressures may have been abandoned or lacked funds to maintain the sites. Often these cemeteries are missing headstones or site markers after being vandalized or from just plain neglect over time. There are new and growing cemetery management efforts to find unmarked burials so that vacant spaces in these cemeteries can be sold as new burial plots.


Mass Grave Strong Reflection Weak Reflection Backfill Material Historic Burial 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bevan B (1991) The search for graves. Geophysics 56:1310–1319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bevan BW, Kenyon J (1975) Ground penetrating radar for historical archaeology. MASCA Newsl 11(2):2–7Google Scholar
  3. Conyers LB (2006) Ground-penetrating radar techniques to discover and map historic graves. Hist Archaeol 40:64–73Google Scholar
  4. Doolittle JA, Bellantoni NF (2010) The search for graves with ground-penetrating radar in Connecticut. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 37:941–949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goodman D (1994) Ground-penetrating radar simulation in engineering and archaeology. Geophysics 59:224–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. King JA, Bevan BW, Hurry RJ (1993) The reliability of geophysical surveys at historic period cemeteries: an example from the plains cemetery, Mechanicsville, Maryland. Hist Archaeol 27(3):4–16Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dean Goodman
    • 1
  • Salvatore Piro
    • 2
  1. 1.Geophysical ArchaeometryLaboratory Inc.Woodland HillsUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Technologies, Applied to Cultural HeritageNational Research CouncilRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations