September 18, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Ground penetrating radar is making progress in archeology

Ground penetrating radar is making progress in archeology

The remains of three residential school children unearthed in western Canada have been discovered with new technology. Ground penetrating radar, which has long been used in civil engineering, has made progress in archeology in recent years. He digs large areas more quickly and finds graves without bothering.


Matthew Perrault

Matthew Perrault
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Density differences

At the University of Montreal, archaeologists have been using ground penetrating radar for three years. “Ground penetrating radar has been around for a long time, especially in civil engineering and environmental studies on sediments and glaciers,” explained Jean-Christophe Oellet, a ground penetrating radar specialist in the Department of Archeology. “We have identified differences in density, so we can look at large structures and disturbed soil, for example excavated soil for a tomb. This type of device costs “several tens of thousands of dollars” and is effective up to a depth of four to eight meters, depending on the terrain. You can not see the bones, it’s not an X – ray, “said the Montreal archaeologist.”

Photo provided by Jean-Christophe UL Let

Archaeologist Jean-Christophe Oulette demonstrates ground penetration radar to students at the University of Montreal.

Cemetery and old church

Mr. Oulette used penetrating radar in his grounds at the cemetery, especially in a partially submerged village in Tauro Reservoir, Marisi, and found a forgotten cemetery in Montreal. “We also found a 19th century churchE Century in the parking lot of a recent church in Saint-Rose in Laval. We are working with Inno of the North Shore on the historic occupation of the Moisi River Basin. The recently discovered residential school cemeteries were discovered by ground-penetrating radar by Matis archaeologist from the University of Albata, Kisha Supernant, who specializes in “collaborative archeology” with indigenous peoples.

In Europe and the United States

According to Uel Yulet, ground penetrating radar is widely used in Europe and the United States. “Often, in Europe, we have very large Roman sites, villas or ancient medieval cemeteries that cannot be completely excavated. Ground penetrating radar is used to target the most promising areas from an archaeological point of view. Another technology being developed in archeology is the lidar, which can detect buried structures up to nine meters from the air. “Lidar was less expensive and was now used to find cities buried under the forest vegetation in the Amazon,” explained Christian Gates Saint-Pierre, another archaeologist from the University of Montreal. I use it on my excavations at the icing site in the 14th century Iroquoian village of Monterogy.E Century, to understand how the aborigines perceived and used the surrounding topography, and most importantly to understand why they established their village on the sand dune rather than on the surrounding arable land. ”

Pre-Columbian burial

How did Native Canadians bury their dead? For nomadic species, tombs are clearly segregated and may have cremation rites depending on the culture. “When the dead were buried, it was often in a state of stabbing,” Mr. Gates told Saint-Pierre. In the case of Huron-Vendat, sometimes when we went to a village, we dug up the bones and buried them in a new place. Children who died in infancy are also rarely buried under longhouses. The soul of a dead baby may return if the mother is pregnant again. ”

Acidic soils

Is it possible to find bones in a residential school cemetery? “The bones have been relatively intact for centuries, but if the soil is less acidic, nothing will be left after a few decades,” Gates Saint-Pierre said.

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