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Acoustic mapping of submerged stone age sites—A HALD approach

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  • Ole Grøn, University of Copenhagen, Culture & Preservation
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  • Lars Ole Boldreel, University of Copenhagen
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  • Morgan F. Smith, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, The Archaeological Research Cooperative Inc
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  • Shawn Joy, The Archaeological Research Cooperative Inc, SEARCH Inc
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  • Rostand Tayong Boumda, Université Libre de Bruxelles, University of Bedfordshire
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  • Andreas Mäder, Unterwasserarchäologie/Dendrochronologie Zürich
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  • Niels Bleicher, Unterwasserarchäologie/Dendrochronologie Zürich
  • ,
  • Bo Madsen
  • Deborah Cvikel, University of Haifa
  • ,
  • Björn Nilsson, Lund University
  • ,
  • Arne Sjöström, Lund University
  • ,
  • Ehud Galili, University of Haifa
  • ,
  • Egon Nørmark
  • Changqing Hu, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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  • Qunyan Ren, CAS - Institute of Acoustics
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  • Philippe Blondel, University of Bath
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  • Xing Gao, CAS - Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
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  • Petra Stråkendal, Länsstyrelsen i Blekinge län
  • ,
  • Antonio Dell’anno, Marche Polytechnic University

Acoustic response from lithics knapped by humans has been demonstrated to facilitate effective detection of submerged Stone Age sites exposed on the seafloor or embedded within its sediments. This phenomenon has recently enabled the non-invasive detection of several hitherto unknown submerged Stone Age sites, as well as the registration of acoustic responses from already known localities. Investigation of the acoustic-response characteristics of knapped lithics, which appear not to be replicated in naturally cracked lithic pieces (geofacts), is presently on-going through laboratory experiments and finite element (FE) modelling of high-resolution 3D-scanned pieces. Experimental work is also being undertaken, employing chirp sub-bottom systems (reflection seismic) on known sites in marine areas and inland water bodies. Fieldwork has already yielded positive results in this initial stage of development of an optimised Human-Altered Lithic Detection (HALD) method for mapping submerged Stone Age sites. This paper reviews the maritime archaeological perspectives of this promising approach, which potentially facilitates new and improved practice, summarizes existing data, and reports on the present state of development. Its focus is not reflection seismics as such, but a useful resonance phenomenon induced by the use of high-resolution reflection seismic systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number445
JournalRemote Sensing
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

    Research areas

  • Acoustic mapping, Cultural heritage management, Lithic artefacts, Underwater archaeology, Underwater survey

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