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Integrated Remote Sensing and Excavation at Double Ditch State Historic Site, North Dakota

  • Kenneth L. Kvamme (a1) and Stanley A. Ahler (a2)
Abstract

A four-year program of remote sensing at the Double Ditch State Historic Site (32BL8) demonstrates the utility of combined prospecting methods for understanding complex settlements when combined with traditional excavation methods. Magnetic gradiometry revealed countless subterranean storage pits, hearths, and two previously unknown fortification systems that vastly increase the settlement's area and projected population to perhaps 2,000 individuals. Electrical resistance surveys helped define middens, other depositional areas, houses, and earth-borrowing pits. Ground-penetrating radar yielded details about ditch, house, and mounded midden interior forms. Aerial survey from a powered parachute acquired high-resolution digital color and thermal infrared imagery. The former distinguished houses, borrow pits, and ditches from middens and fill areas by changes in vegetation; the latter did the same through temperature variations that also highlighted historic excavations. High-resolution topographic survey allowed documentation of topographic expressions caused by ditches, houses, borrow pits, and mounds. The remote sensing program reduced excavation costs by targeting features. Excavations confirmed anomaly identifications and established a chronology that documents late-fifteenth-century origins to an ultimate contraction in the eighteenth century, with abandonment after a smallpox outbreak about A.D. 1785. Evidence suggests that large mounds formed integral components of the village"s defenses. Excavations also reveal extensive earth moving for mound building, earthlodge coverings, and other reasons still unclear. This practice caused the truncation or obliteration of many earlier archaeological features and forces realization that long-occupied settlements were fluid through time with continual reworking of deposits, and complex depositional, use, and formation histories.

Résumé

Un programa de cuatro años de percepción remota en el sitio histórico Double Ditch (32BL8) demuestra la efectividad de combinar métodos múltiples de búsqueda con métodos tradicionales de excavación para comprender e interpretar establecimientos que presentan un cuadro complejo. El uso de gradiometría magnética revela incontablesfosos de almacenamiento subterráneos, calderas, y dos sistemas de fortificación previamente desconocidos. Esto aumenta considerablemente el área de establecimiento y estima su población a quizás 2000 individuos. Un reconocimiento de resistencia eléectrica define estratos que presentan acumulación de derivados relacionados con actividad humana, otras áreas de depósito, casas y fosos de abastecimiento de tierra para usos diversos. Radares de penetración de suelo proporcionan detalles sobre zanjas, casas y también la composición interior de depósitos de acumulación de derivados. Imágenes desde un paracaídas eléctrico de alta resolución digital y de visión térmica infrarroja permiten distinguir claramente entre casas, fosos de abastecimiento, zanjas y las áreas de sedimento y de saturación a través de los cambios en la vegetación o variaciones en la temperatura que también distinguen excavaciones históricas. Inspecciones topográficas de alta resolución documentan expresiones en la topografía causadas por zanjas, casas, fosos de abastecimiento y apilamientos de tierra o terraplenes. El programa de percepción remota redujo los costos de excavación al enfocarse en aspectos específicos de interés. Las excavaciones confirmaron identificaciones erróneas y establecieron una cronología que documenta los orígenes de este establecimiento alrededor de fines del siglo quince hasta una última contracción en el siglo dieciocho, con el abandono del establecimiento después de una epidemia de viruela alrededor de año 1785 D.C. Existe evidencia que sugiere que grandes terraplenes formaban un componente integral en la defensa de la población. Las excavaciones también revelan un extenso traslado de tierra para la construccíon de terraplenes, cubiertas de alojamientos de tierra y otras razones todavía sin aclarar. Esta práctica causó la obliteracíon o desaparición de muchos aspectos arqueológicos anteriores y fuerza a la conclusión de que establecimientos ocupados por largo tiempo fueron inconstantes a través del tiempo con una continua re-elaboración de depósitos y con una historia compleja de uso y formación de depósitos.

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