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The scale of application of geophysical methods in archaeology has been quite limited in comparison to exploration geophysical surveys employed in engineering, hazardous-waste, ground-water, oil and gas, and mineral research. Archaeogeophysical projects have been directed toward discovering or detailing archaeological features that are generally smaller in scale and occur over a relatively smaller range of sizes than the features of interest in exploration geophysics.

It is suggested that the interplay of scale of application with both research orientation and limitations of the geophysical methods has worked to constrain the use of geophysical technology in archaeology. By expanding the scale of archaeogeophysical research beyond the traditionally defined discrete archaeological feature, archaeologists can more fully exploit the potential of this technology. The use of geophysical methods to investigate both broad- and small-scale archaeological phenomena and the problems and prospects of such research are illustrated with data from the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in southwestern Illinois.

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