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Seeing Past the Dirt

Using ground-penetrating radar to focus archaeological digs

Behold the modern archaeologist in the field: no pick, no shovel, no whisk broom. On this day, the only equipment that's apparent is a cart full of electronics, which the researcher is pushing back and forth over the ground. The activity recalls a homeowner mowing a lawn, but this is instead high-tech prospecting with ground-penetrating radar. A flickering screen on the cart reveals echoes of buried objects, reflections that may represent artifacts, structures, or other signs of civilizations long ago.

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