Experts use technology to find Moundville remains

Moundville, Alabama (AP) 9-09

A University of Alabama anthropology professor and an archaeology consultant are teaming up to locate remains dating back to the 1200s, thanks to modern technology.

Anthropology professor John Blitz and consultant Chet Walker threw out traditional methods of excavation and are using a magnetometer to locate the remains. The instrument, sometimes used in geophysical surveys, can indicate prehistoric activity; it helped them find clusters of house remains in a test trial in April.


Blitz said he expects to get new insight on how the Moundville Native Americans lived by exploring more than 250 acres in an unexplored section of the town. He said the magnetometer indicates remains using computer-generated technology without disturbing the site.

The instrument is dragged across the soil and its sensors measure changes in the earth’s magnetic field caused by human activity.

“What’s so revolutionary about this is that it finds things that are invisible,” Blitz said. “It’s a wonderful way of getting a good idea of where people were living, and looking for remains that have not been examined before.”

Walker’s consulting firm, Archaeo-Geophysical Associates, has worked on projects in 10 U.S. states, as well as in Belize and Peru. The Early Moundville Project is one of the larger projects he has worked on.

Blitz will take students in his field archaeology course to conduct a test excavation on a mound in September as a follow-up to his test trial. He has not yet received money for the project, but hopes the test excavation will affirm his findings and generate enough money to map their entire area of study.