This paper presents the results of a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey conducted in the rural area of the ancient city of Ferento near Viterbo (Northern Latium, Italy), where the visible ruins testify an uninterrupted history from the Etruscan to the Medieval period. The soil covering the ruins has been intensively ploughed, cultivated and used for pasture over the centuries, and is characterised by a high content of clay minerals. In this scenario, the use of GPR is particularly difficult due to both possible ‘false positive anomalies’ and strong signal attenuation. In order to reconstruct the geometrical shape and size of the geophysical anomalies related to a medieval dwelling, multi-profile GPR data were collected in two different areas, using radar equipped with 250-MHz antennas. 2D and pseudo-3D migrated maps were created and signal velocity analysis was performed to estimate the target depths. Despite the clayey-calcareous material, the results show a good signal penetration and allow a clear reconstruction of the shape of the buried ruins, confirming that the anomalies are due to medieval buildings located at a depth in agreement with what was observed on the archaeological stratigraphy. Furthermore, our study suggests that in radar data interpretation, caution should be used if the surveyed area was subjected to prolonged and intensive agriculture.
P. M., B., Mattei, E., Pettinelli, E. (2013). Non-invasive archaeological exploration in stratigraphically complex rural settings: an example from Ferento (Viterbo, Italy). ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND ANTHROPOLOGICAL SCIENCES [10.1007/s12520-013-0138-3].