Ground Penetrating Radar: Cultivating a Sense of Place

May 14, 2014 at 7:59 am Leave a comment

How do you connect to a place? We all have a relationship with the city we live in, the community we grew up in, and the spot where we have repeatedly gazed up at the starts many times before.

What lies between mankind and a place can be on an individual level, and a societal one. Before georadar technology came around, archeologists had a harder time of finding sites of cultural significance, but now, it is a gold mine of artifacts just waiting to be found under the surface.

Above the individual nostalgia, familiarity, and other positive connections we have with a place, there are societal values that can be found through artifacts and the proper use of technology at our disposal.


Finding a connection to culture, value, and opportunity in a place taken for granted. 


A prime example of value and connections cultivated on a community level lies in the artifact location in Ventura, California in 2011. Artifact location can lead to culture discovery in the last place that you would expect to find it – under a parking lot. This area used to hold Spanish mission grounds, and what do you know, it happened to be forgotten along with the fact that it is heavily laced with artifacts giving information about the Chumash Indians.


The Chumash was a tribe with most of their history and heritage lost in assimilation by Spanish settlers in California. Among some of the artifacts found there were deer bones, which suggested to archeologists that some of the Chumash that were imprisoned by the Spanish might have been granted hunting freedoms.

Because such little history is known, many people, including myself, see this discovery as huge gain for our collective sense of place, community value, and insight into a culture that could have been lost forever.


In order to find this important archeological site, ground penetrating radar (GPR) was used. This is a non-destructive way to see what lies below the surface using wide spectrum energy pulses and electromagnetic induction meters. Basically the technology sends out pulses and then reads the way that the different materials reflect the energy.


The knowledge of the history, geography, geology and legends all intertwine into our sense of place.


The things we take care not to destroy are a prime example of how important the people’s opinion is. The most recent damage was reported by the Shanghaiist in June of 2013 as construction workers bulldozed tombs and artifacts dating back to the Shang Dynasty in the name of putting up a railway. This shows what was and wasn’t valuable to the unity of a culture, one that still hasn’t recovered from the deep cut of corporate greed.

The “blunder” as it is called was one that seemed intentional at the time, removing archeological tools and acceptance of production costs, and that was later brushed off as an accident. As much as is gained for the history books can be wiped clean with much less effort and contributing far more to a negative sense of place and a disconnect from one’s government and community.

After the railway was constructed, how does that contribute to the sense of place?

A few generations later the pain may be forgotten, the memory gone as those who witnessed the crime pass away, but the good stuff is just as irreplaceable as memories. Let your connection to your place be a good one. Appreciate the value of sustainable building and hope of for the patient use of technology to gain heritage and further cultivate a sense of place.


Author:  Victor Archambault Victor Archambault is a man of science, geeks out over Civil Engineering, and loves the New Jersey Devils. He finally joined the twitterverse, so please follow him so that he has more than two friends

Author: Victor Archambault
Victor Archambault is a man of science, geeks out over Civil Engineering, and loves the New Jersey Devils. He finally joined the twitterverse, so please follow him so that he has more than two friends




Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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