Abstract

During December 2002 and January 2003, Montana Tech in collaboration with Ain Shams University, Cairo, collected Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and seismic data at Saqqara, Egypt. The purpose of this study was to see if GPR and seismic methods could detect manmade structures in the subsurface at Saqqara. In particular, land streamer aided, seismic diving-wave tomography was tested as a method to detect archaeological features. Saqqara was one of the principal necropolises of Memphis, an ancient capital of Egypt. The research site was near the 3rd Dynasty pharaoh Djoser's Step Pyramid—the first monumental structure built entirely of stone. A preliminary GPR study of our site yielded numerous, possibly manmade features in the subsurface with a 4 m depth of penetration using 100 MHz antennas. A follow-up three-dimensional (3-D) GPR survey over one of the more interesting features showed a broad trench underneath the flat-lying sand that is seen at the surface. This feature is most likely manmade because the horizontally layered limestone rocks of Saqqara are inconsistent with the shape of this feature. Seismic diving-wave tomograms show that this probable manmade feature extends to a depth of 8 m into the subsurface. Moreover, we were able to complete the seismic survey faster using a land streamer consisting of gimbaled geophones than could be done using conventional planted geophones. This site has potential for further investigation and possible excavation.

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