Mapping Cities With Radio Waves

A team of archeologists have used ground penetrating radar (GPR) to map the ancient Roman city of Falerii, which was abandoned about a thousand years ago and has been only minimally excavated.

Alongside their findings about the city, their paper, published in this month’s issue of the journal Antiquity, discusses the technology they used in some detail:

The GPR network, towed by an all-terrain vehicle, comprises 15 500MHz antennae. (…) As the width of one antenna housing is ~0.25m, the arrangement of the antennae in two offset rows results in a vertical profile spacing of 0.125m (Figure 2b). In order to meet sample density requirements (Grasmueck et al. 2005; Verdonck et al. 2015), a second pass was made, reducing the transect spacing to 0.0625m (Figure 2b).

Here’s a picture of the rig they used:

I wonder how long until we see specialty vehicles outfitted with ground penetrating radar and other sensors driving around modern cities, like Google Streetview cars, mapping subterranean infrastructure.

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