Applied Field Geophysics Workshop – Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Applications

Location: Rapolt - Vetel, RO

Season: May 26, 2019 to June 30, 2019

Session Dates: Session 1: May 26 – June 2, 2019 (6 days); Session 2: June 2 – June 9, 2019 (6 days); Session 3: June 9 – June 16, 2019 (6 days); Session 4: June 16 – June 23, 2019 (6 days); Session 5: June 23 – June 30, 2019 (6 days)

Application Deadline: May 1, 2018

Deadline Type: Contact for details


Program Type:
Field school, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

Archaeological Techniques and Research Center (Canada), Dacian and Roman Civilizations Museum (Deva, Romania)

Project Director:
Isabel Morris (Princeton University); Dr. Andre Gonciar (Archaeological Techniques and Research Center)

Project Description:

          This workshop aims at providing intensive training in applied field geophysical methods in an extraordinary environment in Southern Transylvania. Geophysical methods are an extremely versatile set of techniques used extensively in both research and practical applications from archaeology, to urbanism, forensics, geology, engineering. Field experience with these techniques is an exceptionally useful and lucrative skill to acquire, but training in these methods is limited to expensive manufacturer professional development and/or academic courses. These educational opportunities tend to sacrifice either the theoretical and technical foundations, or the practical use and interpretation of the methods. In contrast, this workshop provides a full set of technical, theoretical, and practical skills for Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveying. As such, it offers thorough training for field work, processing, and interpretation of intensively modified human landscapes, in an accessible and professional way. Hands-on experience is an essential complement to previous or planned geophysics training for work in earth sciences, geology, geography, urban planning, architecture, surveying, civil engineering, environmental engineering, environmental studies, landscaping, forensics, anthropology, archaeology, cultural resource management (CRM), Classics, and/or history.

          The workshop is conducted in the heart of Transylvania, in the Mureş river valley (Hunedoara County, Romania). This region combines intensive historical human habitation and landscape transformation with relatively static modern occupation, offering complex but highly accessible study sites.  This offers a unique setting in which common environmental challenges to a GPR survey, such as interference from cell phone towers, communication and power lines, road traffic, and modern constructions occur at recognizable and manageable levels.  As a result, this location is ideal for both GPR exploration, and skill acquisition. 

          This workshop will address the basic principles of electromagnetic wave propagation and electromagnetic properties as they apply to GPR and geophysical exploration.  We will focus on the practical applications of GPR in order to achieve the most useful results in different environments with distinct stratigraphic and geological properties, relevant in a variety of disciplines.  The workshop will be progressively staged so that participants gain experience and skills required to formulate appropriate research questions and carry out real life data collection and analysis to answer these questions.  During the first three days, participants will receive several lectures on GPR theory and method, learning to properly collect data and use the field equipment and analytical software.  The last three days will be devoted exclusively to data collection and analysis, designed to acquire the maximum applied field geophysical experience and communication skills to present the results. Working in teams of two or three, participants will maximize both quantity and quality of acquired field and analytical geophysical exploration skills.

          Our case study site at Micia provides an unparalleled access to a diverse set of features and conditions.  We address urban and proto-urban settlement construction, complex anthropogenic stratigraphic relationships, variation in soil structure and conditions, wide range of materials and their use/reuse, unmapped ancient and modern utilities, potential graves, modern and ancient civil works projects (including the remains of roads, aqueducts, and wells), changes in hydrogeological environment caused by modern human intervention (construction and operation of thermal power plant), and any additional and as-yet undiscovered features.

          The Roman castrum and associated municipium at Micia is one of the largest and most intricate archaeological urban sites in Transylvania, featuring three centuries of intensive and extensive Roman occupation.  Beginning as complex fortified military camps, it later expanded into a large village and then a full city, complete with amphitheater, baths, temples, manufacturing, shops, plazas, large and small habitation structures, and two cemeteries with funerary monuments.  The Roman site was then taken over by migratory people with variable architectural skill who modified the site according to their needs and perception for over four centuries. It was then forgotten for close to a millennium and a half until, during communist times, a thermal power plant and a couple of roads were built on the site, destroying about 20% of it, and introducing a modern twist to our GPR research area in the form of unmapped buried utilities and buried support/temporary structures.

Period(s) of Occupation: Geophysics (GPR); Roman Imperial (Provincial); Migration Period; Modern

Intensive Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) training workshop, focusing in skill acquisition and hands-on field and laboratory applications, in rich archaeological and modern target environments. The workshop is designed for participants to become very effective and proficient GPR operators and analysts. Team size: 3 participants per session.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 6 days

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: The project is designed to be an intensive hands on experience, focusing primarily on skill acquisition. As such, previous experience is not required. We will teach participants all the necessary skills in the field and laboratory as they engage with various contexts.

Room and Board Arrangements:
We house everyone in double or triple occupancy rooms in the village houses. Every house is equipped with bathrooms. You will be guests of Romanian families and will have a chance to discover the true sense of old fashion Transylvanian hospitality. You will experience some of the nicest aspects of Eastern European country life, indulging in your guest families home made cookies and a variety of  home made traditional  beverages. Generally speaking, you will have all the advantages of a country life with the comfort of an urban environment. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included for the duration of each session. Beaware that Romanian cuisine is meat oriented (although we do our best to satisfy vegetarians as well). Cost: $1095 for each 6-day intensive training session

Contact Information:

Dr. A. Gonciar

Archaeological Techniques and Research Center



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