Archaeological Interpretation of Marine Magnetic Data

Robert Gearhart

in The Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195375176
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Archaeological Interpretation of Marine Magnetic Data

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  • Archaeology
  • Archaeological Methodology and Techniques



Interpreting remote sensing data is one of the most important tasks of archaeologists working in submerged environments. Researchers rely on remote-sensing technologies to aid their search for historic shipwrecks of interest. Magnetometers are essential for detection of buried shipwrecks. The main goal of magnetic interpretation has been to distinguish shipwrecks from debris, usually resulting in an archaeological assessment of each anomaly concerning its potential for historic significance. The past two decades have seen improvement in archaeologists' abilities to detect shipwreck anomalies. This article provides a basic, nonmathematical summary of magnetism relevant to archaeological interpretation and the evolving perceptions of shipwreck anomalies. The basis for assessing magnetic anomaly significance must be firmly rooted in empiricism in order to improve the objectivity of data interpretation.

Keywords: remote-sensing technologies; magnetometers; shipwrecks; magnetic interpretation; archaeological interpretation; shipwreck anomalies

Article.  8549 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeological Methodology and Techniques

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