What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Non-Intrusive Archaeological Reconnaissance Methods Compared to Excavation Techniques?

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of non-intrusive archaeological reconnaissance methods compared to excavation techniques? There are a number of imperative factors an archaeologist must acknowledge prior to excavation that will affect the nature and outcome of his work. In accordance with a continuous debate on the most appropriate strategies to be adopted when excavating, this essay will determine the assets and drawbacks in using non-intrusive archaeological reconnaissance methods against excavation techniques. Traditionally fieldwork was seen almost exclusively in terms of the discovery and excavation of sites (Renfrew and Bahn, 2008: 73). Yet despite the enormity of information that may be gleaned from excavating a site, technology has promoted new ways in assessing the potential of landscapes in addition to, or even in place of excavation. Archaeologists today extol the abundant benefits that accompany methods of site-surface survey and subsurface detection using remote sensing devices. Such benefits include the lack of significant destruction and high costs that accompany traditional excavation. Notably, prior to an excavation, methods such as aerial photography are regularly implemented as a complement to the study of maps and to fieldwalking (Barker, 1982:33). It is interesting that this particular non-intrusive reconnaissance method is heavily relied on regardless of the later modus operandi, it highlights how pertinent such methods are as micro-contouring may reveal features not visible to the naked eye (Collis, 2001:23). As such, I wish to introduce the leverages of a wide range of non-destructive techniques ideal for the archaeologist seeking to understand the character of a site. Geophysical sensing devices such as Seismic and Acoustic methods record the resulting sounds of impact enabling the location of underground features.

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