Non-invasive prospection techniques and direct push sensing as high-resolution validation tools in wetland geoarchaeology – Artificial water supply at a Carolingian canal in South Germany?

in: Journal of Applied Geophysics (2020)
Rabiger-Völlmer, Johannes; Schmidt, Johannes; Linzen, Sven Peter; Schneider, Michael; Werban, Ulrike; Dietrich, Peter; Wilken, Dennis; Wunderlich, Tina; Fediuk, Annika; Berg, Stefanie; Werther, Lukas; Zielhofer, Christoph
The prospection of (geo-)archaeological sites yield important knowledge about the concept and the utilisation of pre-historical and historical infrastructure. The satisfactory conduction of classical prospection methods like archaeological excavations or geoarchaeological vibra-coring might be challenging in the case of large sites or difficult underground conditions. This is particularly problematic in wetlands featuring a high groundwater table and high compaction rates of organic layers. In this study, we provide an alternative and non- to minimal-invasive exploration approach to discover hydroengineering structures for artificial water supply in the surrounding of a Carolingian summit canal in South Germany. The Early Medieval Fossa Carolinawas intended 792/793 CE to bridge the Central Europeanwatershed between Rhine-Main and Danube catchments. As the canalwas constructed as a summit canal, an artificialwater supply at the highest levels seemed very likely or even obligatory. In order to explore these obligatory hydroengineering features, we use a wide range of on-site and off-site tools in a spatial hierarchical way. Our approach includes the large-scale SQUID magnetic survey and the sighting of historical maps. Furthermore, we integrate high-resolution direct push colour logs, and subsequent vibra-coring for small-scale stratigraphical verification and sedimentological analyses. The SQUID magnetic survey and related depthmodels discover two pronounced linear anomalies thatmight represent potential artificial water inlets in the North-Eastern and Northern Sections of the canal. I) In the North-Eastern Section, direct push colour logs, vibra-coring and 14C dating provide no evidence for a Carolingian hydro-engineering feature but reveal a natural lenticular structure of Early Holocene age. II) The linear magnetic anomaly in the Northern Section can be excludedwith high probability as a hydro-engineering structure as well. Here, direct push colour logs, vibra-coring, 14C dating and the comparisonwith a historic map reveal evidence for a historic gravel road. Thus, we have nicely verified the magnetic information but have no prove for an artificial Carolingian water inlet from the Swabian Rezat River that contradicts with assumptions of former studies.

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