First Trial Geophysical Surveys at Kintampo Open-Air Sites: Results, Recommendations, Research Prospects

in Journal of African Archaeology
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Within the scope of a short-term pilot study, the authors conducted trial geophysical surveys at two sites of the late Holocene food-producing Kintampo Complex (ca. 2100-1400 BC) in northern Ghana. Overall goal of research was an evaluation of the potential of employing geophysical prospecting to map the subsurface extent of Kintampo open-air settlements. From an archaeological viewpoint, the results of the surveys were satisfactory but not outstanding in view of post-depositional disturbances at the locations. Based on that knowledge, we argue for the need of developing a systematic archaeological reconnaissance and research program for locating new and virtually undisturbed open-air Kintampo sites. We maintain that such a preliminary measure will be crucial both for investigating hitherto neglected research issues such as Kintampo settlement pattern and landscape exploitation as well as allowing geophysical technologies to fully evolve as central explorative tools in regard to settlement-related spatial questions.



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  • Nter 5 location with indication of the area prospected by gradiometry (rectangle), other sites located in the immediate surroundings as well as the coordinates of O. Davies’ Kintampo site Ntereso. North is at the page top.
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  • Topographic situation of the area prospected at site Nter 5. The elevated area to the left is a heap of earth excavated from the borrow trench to the west of the area illustrated.
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  • Gradiometry plot of Nter 5 showing major modern and archaeological features detected (north is at the page top). The area-wide occurring fine stripes are modern plow furrows. Scale in meters. Readings are median-filtered and interpolated.
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  • Birimi (Gamb 4) location with indication of the area prospected by gradiometry (rectangle) and other sites positioned along the stream Birimi Kuliga. North is at the page top.
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  • Topographic situation of the Kintampo site Birimi. The site is today located at a promontory formed by the banks of the Birimi Kuliga to the east and a huge erosion gully to the south.
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  • Gradiometry plot of Birimi showing iron-working remains, area of extensive plow furrows in the southern section of the site as well as possible archaeological features detected (north is at the page top). Detail area displays a circular arrangement of anomalies preliminarily interpreted as the location of a former hut. Scale in meters. Readings are median-filtered and interpolated.
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