"Coils over Spoil – Metal-detecting and archaeological interpretation at Gabii"

and JASON FARR (University of Michigan) (22nd TRAC; 30 March 2012)

Coils over Spoil – Metal-detecting and archaeological interpretation at Gabii

Although archaeological field manuals sometimes suggest the utility of metal detectors on archaeological sites, the actual employment of detectorists on active excavations in the Roman Mediterranean has been minimal. Limited metal detecting has been used in various excavations in Italy and elsewhere; however, only a few recent projects have systematically applied such work and explicitly published their result
s. In the 2009 and 2010 field seasons of the Gabii Project, a large-scale investigation of the Latin city of Gabii situated 18 km east of Rome, volunteer detectorists from Britain’s Portable Antiquities Scheme were invited to participate in a systematic metal detecting campaign. During the course of excavations, individual spoil heaps were created for each stratigraphic unit and these were metal detected for all remaining finds. While previous studies have made clear that metal detection can dramatically increase the recovery rate of metal artifacts, our work at Gabii is concerned with assessing in more detail how the recovery of finds with metal detectors might affect finds analysis and site interpretation. We therefore undertake both a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the resulting metal assemblage, comparing the type, size, and legibility of excavated metal with the detected metal. We demonstrate that metal detecting spoil heaps is feasible for large projects and for the highly mineralised soils typical of Italy, as well as valuable for better understanding the artifact assemblage of an urban site.  

This presentation will take place as part of the 22nd Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC) taking place in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The poster will be presented on 30 March 2012, from 5.30 to 7.00 pm.

Gabii Project,
Mar 28, 2012, 8:37 AM