Kiva site


RADAR ARCHAEOLOGISTS have set up their base station at the edge of a shallow depression they believe marks the site of a 900 year-old Anasazi kiva in Bluff, Utah. "We wanted to test with radar prior to excavation because these structures played a part in the religion and ceremonial life of the ancient Anasazi people," says Conyers. "Their descendants are very nervous about us digging up things that are sacred. Radar was a method that we could use to first image what was there and then adjust out excavation procedures to dig only in certain spots to test our scientific ideas."


Radar antenna

RADAR IMAGES are created by pulling this sending-and-receiving antenna across the site. The antenna sends pulses of radar energy into the ground and captures the reflected signal. This data is send to the base station where it can be viewed on a computer screen.




Kiva image



TELLTALE "SLICE." Computer processing of the radar reflectance data allows archaeologists to produce "maps" at various depths beneath the surface. At a depth of about 1.5 meters, Conyers and his colleagues hit pay dirt. This image revealed a nearly square structure that probably indicates walls constructed by the ancient Anasazi.




Kiva wall

RIGHT ON. When the radar team completed their survey, Conyers marked the site of the possible wall by sticking a flag in the ground. and "then I taunted the archaeologists to dig it up," says Conyers. "They thought I was crazy." But the dig soon revealed the standing stones that make up the wall. "When I came back in a week, there it was," he says. "The radar data hit these standing walls right on." In fact, the radar even showed where stones had collapsed after the kiva was abandoned many centuries ago. The site is now known as the Bluff Great Kiva.


Images: LAWRENCE B. CONYERS

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