Project

COST Action SAGA (the Soil Science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance: going beyond prospection)

Goal: Archaeological sites can be discovered and recorded in a high-resolution and non-invasive manner using geophysical methods. These measure the spatial variation of a range of physical properties of the soil which may be representative proxies of the subsurface archaeology. Less-invasive and cost-effective field procedures have become top-priority to mitigate the destructive effects on our cultural heritage from intensified land use, climate change and the current conflict panorama.

At a time when many organisations are investing in advanced geophysical equipment, a major problem is that our ability to fully interpret the information available from geophysical datasets is still very limited. This deficiency prevents geophysical survey moving beyond basic prospection and becoming a significant tool for answering nuanced questions about archaeology and their host landscapes. This limitation arises from an incomplete understanding of the relationship between soil properties and geophysical measurements. Bridging this gap requires multi-disciplinary teams, testing novel methods, plus scholarly discussion to collate the outcomes of projects on this topic. Overcoming these challenges is a prerequisite for maximising the cost-effectiveness of geophysical methods, realising the expected benefits of technological investment and allowing broader utility of geophysical methods in the cultural heritage sector.

SAGA will build an international network of geophysicists, archaeologists, soil scientists and other experts to develop our capability to interpret geophysical data and promote research collaborations. Our vision is that after four years, SAGA will have created an environment within which emerging field procedures, enhanced data interpretation and a broader understanding of integrated geophysical methods can flourish.

Methods: Soil Science, Geophysics, Archaeological Chemistry, Geophysical Inversion, Geoarcheology, Geophysical Survey, Soil Characterization, Applied Geophysics, Archaeological Prospection, Geochemical Exploration

Date: 26 October 2018 - 25 October 2022

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2019

Project log

Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
We are quite excited to open the registration to attend our 3rd COST Action SAGA Training SchoolMagnetic laboratory methods in support of archaeo-geophysical research'. This activity will be held at the Geophysical Institute in Prague (CZ) from 28th until 31st March 2022. Please check the attached pdf for further info. The registration will remain open until 11/March/2022.
We can support 9 researchers, including PhD candidates and MA/MSc students, to travel and attend this activity with a grant up to 1448 EUR (each). To register and apply for a SAGA TS Grant follow this link: https://forms.gle/BBhRxyMi6YKx85nz7
Attendants will need to follow national and institutional measures against COVID as well as other mandatory COST conditions for in-person activities (for more info, contact the Local Organiser of the activity: Hana Grison, grison@ig.cas.cz).
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
The call for papers of our session @ the World Archaeological Congress (WAC9 Prague, 3-8 July 2022, hybrid event) - World archaeo-geophysics: State of the art & case studies (COST Action SAGA-CA 17131) is now open. More details about the session below and the attached pdf. The link to the online submission here: https://www.wac-9.org/xcall-for-papers. Abstract cannot exceed the limit of 250 words (excluding title, authors and affiliations. The deadline for submissions is the 21st APRIL 2022. Please, feel free to extend this announcement to interested colleagues.
Organisers: Carmen Cuenca-Garcia (Norwegian University of Science and Technology - NTNU, Norway), Andrei Asandulasei (University “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” IASI, Romania), Kelsey Lowe (University of Queensland, Australia).
Contributors (young researchers and innovators) from COST Inclusiveness Target Countries and Near Neighbour Countries can apply for a COST Action SAGA ITC Conference Grant. Contact the organisers for more info.
WAC9 SESSION #21. 4: World archaeo-geophysics - State of the art & case studies (COST Action SAGA-CA 17131)
Geophysical prospection currently stands as a powerful method in archaeology to study sites in a non-destructive and minimally invasive manner. In the last decade, major technological developments have delivered more compact sensors, multi-arrays systems, as well as motorised or robotised ground or aerial platforms that are revolutionising archaeological research. These technological breakthroughs have allowed the implementation of extremely fast and high-resolution surveys to discover, explore, record and monitor sub-surface archaeological sites and landscapes.
Geophysical techniques have been employed in archaeological research for decades and the result has been their steady establishment as routine procedures in cultural heritage management (CHM). However, the use of archaeo-geophysics, both in research and CHM, faces an unbalanced adoption across European countries but also in the rest of the world. Why? What are the experiences or challenges? How can we promote the uptake of geophysical approaches there with little or no-experience of their use?
To promote an adequate use of geophysics in archaeological research as well as to advance in geophysical data interpretation beyond basic prospection (presence/absence of possible archaeological features), the Soil science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance (SAGA) was funded by the EU COST Association. COST Action SAGA (CA17131) is a research network, which brings together archaeologists, geophysicists and soil scientists from 36 countries. This session is organised under the auspices of COST Action SAGA and is open for contributions (overviews or case-study papers) from SAGA and WAC members, or other external participants working in archaeo-geophysics in research, management or commercial environments, all around the world.
We aim to exchange experiences, discuss common and/or specific challenges and solutions, and identify pathways to facilitate the adoption of archaeo-geophysics especially in those countries with high needs- and where the expertise and infrastructures are not readily available.
 
Jörg W. E. Fassbinder
added a research item
Magnetic prospecting of burial grounds is still a great challenge in the field of archaeological geophysics. Some graves appear as positive anomalies, whereas others do not generate any traces or even show up by negative anomalies. This study involves ground magnetic survey, rock magnetic and magnetic mineralogy examinations of soils to determine factors responsible for the formation of magnetic anomalies on Late Roman time burial grounds of Chernyakhiv–Sântana de Mureş archaeological culture located in the forest‐steppe of Ukraine. We surveyed these sites by a total magnetic field caesium magnetometer in order to target the archaeological excavations. We sampled infill from graves excavated under positive anomalies and profiles of background soils to analyse the enhancement of induced and remanent magnetization. In the laboratory, we examined magnetic mineralogy and measured various magnetic parameters and ratios characterizing concentration and granulometry of ferrimagnetic phase of soils. For further explanations of the magnetic anomalies, we created 3D synthetic magnetic models of the studied objects and compared the calculated total field anomalies with field measurements by their intensity and size. Here, we show how positive magnetic anomalies of destroyed burials are generated when a destruction pit remains open and later topsoil material gradually refilled it with aid of precipitation water. In this case, the infill layers acquire detrital remanence of the same intensity as the topsoil. Such burials are the best targets for magnetic survey. However, archaeological excavations revealed both intact and destroyed inhumations that caused no magnetic disturbance. Obviously, they were refilled immediately after digging/destruction, so that natural remanence of the infill remains mechanically destroyed. The study of this specific category of archaeological monuments brought us closer in the understanding the formation of magnetic anomalies in soil‐filled features and showed the potential and limitations of magnetic prospection.
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
A new STMS Call for applications is now open. This time, the call will remain open until 1 September 2022 and the proposals will be evaluated on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The earlier date to start STSM is 1 February 2022 and be completed by 1st October 2022.
Please, feel free to extend this announcement to interested colleagues.
Contact person: Elina Aidona
 
Ekhine Garcia-Garcia
added a research item
– New approach to mineral-magnetic characterization. – Evaluation of factors influencing geophysical results. – Origin of a fringe without magnetic contrast explained by waterlogging.
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
We are pleased to announce the opening of the first call for proposals for the new 'Virtual Mobility (VM) Grants' in the framework of COST Action SAGA (CA17131). VM Grants aim to strengthen existing networks by allowing members to carry out collaboration in a virtual setting to, inter alia, exchange knowledge, learn new techniques, create new databases, etc.
The maximum amount of the awarded grant is 1500 EUR and we are able to award a maximum of 6 grants in this Grant Period 3 (ending on 31 October 2021). Please take into account that further dissemination of the outputs produced by awarded VM proposals could be further supported by other of our COST Action SAGA Grants (e.g., ITC Conference Grants, Open Access Publication Grants).
Further information in the attached PDF and do not hesitate to contact our Virtual Networking Support (VNS) Manager, Mezgeen Rasol (mezgeen.rasol@univ-eiffel.fr), for any inquiries.
 
Agnese Kukela
added a research item
An account of the activities carried out by The ‘Soil science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance: going beyond prospection’ (COST Action SAGA, CA17131) up to April 2021.
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
The 5th call for applications for Short Term Scientific Missions (STMS) in the framework of COST Action SAGA (CA17131) is now open. If you are working on interactions between archaeo-geophysics and soil science don't miss this funding opportunity. The call will remain open until 1 October 2021. Proposals will be then evaluated on a first-come-first-serve basis. All missions must comply with any current movement restrictions, and with a written acknowledgement from the researchers and hosts that they undertake the travel at their own risk (including potentially being quarantined on their way home) and costs (if awardees get stranded abroad/experience travel delays beyond the STSM period). Other details here: https://www.saga-cost.eu/NEWS_PAGE/15/Fifth-STSM-Call_GP3_COST-Action-SAGA.pdf
Please, feel free to extend this announcement to interested colleagues.
 
Michel Dabas
added a research item
For the interpretation of archaeological geophysical data as archaeological features, it is essential that the recorded anomalies can be clearly delineated and analyzed, and therefore, care has been taken to obtain the best possible data. However, as with all measurements, data are degraded by unwanted components, or noise. This review clarifies the terminology, discusses the four major sources of noise (instrument, use of instrument, external, soil), and demonstrates how it can be characterized using geostatistical and wavenumber methods. It is important to recognize that even with improved instruments, some noise sources, like soil noise, may persist and that degraded data may be the result of unexpected sources, for example, global positioning system synchronization problems. Suggestions for the evaluation and recording of noise levels are provided to allow estimation of the limit of detection for archaeological geophysical anomalies.
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
Dear colleagues, below we are releasing the first edition of our COST Action SAGA Newsletter where you will find, amongst other things, an account of the activities that our project has carried out since our kick-off meeting up to February 2020. We hope you enjoy reading it!
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added a research item
An account of the activities carried out by The ‘Soil science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance: going beyond prospection’ (COST Action SAGA, CA17131) up to February 2020.
Hana Grison
added a research item
Report summarize contributions of the SAGA Workshop 1 where a network of experts develop, promote and facilitate scientific activities focused on integrating geophysics and soil science aiming to maximize the interpretation of archaeological sites.
Hana Grison
added an update
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
SAGA has organised a new training activity which is now open for registrations. The activity is a short course on 'Digital Soil Geochemistry: Mineralogy, Isotope & Moisture Characterisation'. This 2.5 days course will be held at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland on 2-4 March 2020. In the attached document you will find more info on the course.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
SAGA invites everyone working on interactions between archaeo-geophysics and soil science to join EAA2020 Session#35-Building up the momentum in archaeo-geophysics: the “Soil science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance” (COST Action SAGA-CA17131), https://submissions.e-a-a.org/eaa2020, Deadline 13 Feb 2020.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
Dear colleagues, this is to let you know about a publication opportunity in a Special Issue of the open access journal Geosciences MDPI (ISSN 2076-3263; CiteScore 2018_Scopus: 1.82). Papers presented at the SAGA Workshop 1 (Prague) will be published here. The Special Issue is also open for contributions from researchers interested in SAGA topics who did not attend the workshop. Authors who need financial support could enjoy a 20% discount on the APCs to publish their articles. SAGA members (MC Members, MC Substitutes, MC Observers or Participants) could apply for a SAGA Open Access Grant (papers co-authored by at least 3 SAGA members from 3 different countries, see further details below). Please, feel free to extend this announcement to interested colleagues.
***Open Access Publication Grants funded by COST Action SAGA can only be used to disseminate research outcomes performed by SAGA members. The papers must be co-authored by SAGA members representing at least 3 different participating COST Full Members / COST Cooperating Members: –Participant is any person being a MC Member, MC Substitute, MC Observer or Participant. – COST Full Members are basically the 38 countries that joined the COST Programme. – The COST Cooperating Member is Israel.To ensure high quality of the publications, the paper must be subjected to a full peer review, i.e. only peer reviewed publications will be considered for funding within this grant.Peer reviewed, scientific articles published in scientific journals must provide an acknowledgement of COST (see https://www.saga-cost.eu/acknowledging.php)The funds will not be provided before the final acceptance for publication. For other details please contact SAGA's Chair.***
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
A new STSM call for applications in the framework of COST Action SAGA is now open. If you are working on interactions between archaeo-geophysics and soil science don't miss this funding opportunity. More information about the call can be found in the attached pdf. For a glimpse of what is a STSM, please visit: https://www.saga-cost.eu/stsm.php
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
A new call for applications for the Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITC) Conference Grants in the framework of COST Action SAGA — The Soil Science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance (CA17131) is now open for conferences taking place before April 30, 2021 and has two collection dates:
• First collection date: February 15, 2020 (conferences before April 30, 2020)
• Second collection date: February 15, 2021(conferences before April 30, 2021)
Other details on the ITC Conference Grants application can be found in the attached pdf. Please, feel free to extend this announcement to interested colleagues.
 
Philippe De Smedt
added a research item
Within and beyond development-led archaeological frameworks, strategizing archaeological prospection approaches that incorporate geophysical methods remains a daunting task for many archaeologists and managing agencies. While national and international guidelines provide useful support, decisions on a site-specific level often remain difficult to make, particularly in regions with complex and heterogeneous geologies. Although data such as soil and geological maps, and general information about land-use and the archaeology of studied areas help more robust decision-making, the leap to assessing geophysical discrimination potential remains large, particularly when only so-called ‘negative’ features are targeted (e.g. ditches or pits). To provide a more robust framework, we conceptualized a practical approach that starts from the current implementation of Malta-archaeology. As part of a collaboration between the universities of Ghent (BE) and Leiden (NL) and two commercial archaeological units: Archol (NL) and GATE Archaeology (BE), an in-situ geophysical measurement programme has been set up. During trial trenching and test pitting campaigns, measurements of geophysical properties are conducted on excavated profiles. Hereby, the electrical conductivity, dielectric permittivity, and magnetic susceptibility are recorded on characteristic (‘negative’) archaeological features in these profiles, along with recording these properties on governing natural profiles within the studied area. Our aim is to expand this approach to regional and national scales, with reference frameworks for understanding geophysical soil properties of governing geologies and frequently occurring archaeological features. Alongside the field methodology, here we present the first results of this approach.
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
We are pleased to invite you to submit an abstract for oral or poster presentation for consideration at the SAGA Workshop 1.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: FRIDAY, 23 AUGUST, 2019
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
Attached here a pre-announcement for ‘Call for Abstracts’ to contribute to the forthcoming SAGA Workshop 1 (30th September until 1st October 2019, Prague).
The workshop will be completely free of charge and is open to SAGA members and non-members.
There will be an opportunity for selected papers to be published in a Special Issue of the open access journal Geosciences MDPI (ISSN 2076-3263; CiteScore 2018_Scopus: 1.82) with a 20% discount on the APCs for authors who need financial support.
The workshop's website is almost ready and will include all details on abstract submission (~300-500 words).
More info to come here (or FB, or Twitter, or www.saga-cost.eu), so stay tuned.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
We are very pleased to announce the first SAGA Training School: Introduction to the Use of Geophysical & Soil Science Methods in Archaeology. The TS will be held in Auritz/Burguete (Navarre, Spain) on 29 July - 2 August 2019. Attendance is free and applicants can apply for a SAGA Trainee Grant, which is a contribution to the overall travel, accommodation and meal expenses of the Grantee. Master students, PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers, field archaeologists, curators and other professionals working in cultural heritage management are encouraged to apply. Registration is now open and applications must be submitted before 15 June 2019 using this form (http://cort.as/-Hd_x). Please feel free to share this information with your students and colleagues. More information can be found on the attached flyer. Please feel free to print the pdf files (both the poster and flyer) and distribute them in your institution.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
The 3rd call for applications for Short Term Scientific Missions (STMS) in the framework of COST Action SAGA — The Soil Science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance (CA17131) is now open. The STSM should be carried out between June 16, 2019 to April 20, 2020.The deadline for applications is June 6, 2019. Other details on the STSM application can be found in the attached pdf. Please, feel free to extend this announcement to interested colleagues.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
COST Action SAGA was presented at the EGU2019 during the GI1.3 session “Scientific networks and COST Actions in geosciences: breakthrough ideas, research activities and results” organised by Lara Pajewski, Simona Fontul & Aleksandar Ristic. This was an engaging session where delegates involved in different geoscientific networks presented research activities carried out in their networks and shared ideas on innovative research approaches. SAGA attracted a lot of interest and potential new participants in our network and activities.
During the EGU2019, our colleague Emanuele Colica (left in the picture), PhD candidate at the University of Malta, presented a poster titled “Geophysical measurements on the Acropolis Archaeological Area of Gela, Italy». Emanuele has been the first grantee with a SAGA ITC CG. Congratulations Emanuele!
Other SAGA participants attending the EGU included Raffaele Persico (right in the picture) and Ilaria Catapano who presented their work on the application of GPR at different sites in Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus.
On a personal note, attending the EGU was an intense (more than 16,000 geoscientists attending more than 680 sessions) but extremely interesting experience to get to know other COST Action chairs, existing networks, what is going on other fields closely connected with SAGA, and be fully inspired!
 
Philippe De Smedt
added a research item
This poster gives an overview of the aims and structure of the SAGA cost action. It details the key aims of the working groups, along with the structure of SAGA and means to fulfill the key deliverables.
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
Last week COST Action SAGA MC members met together for the “First Joint Working Group & Management Committee Meeting”, the first proper scientific event of the project.
The 3-days event was held in Rethymno at the IMS-FORTH institute - the place where the original idea behind SAGA was conceived and the COST proposal drafted during the second ISSGAP workshop (see ISSGAP archived project in Carmen’s Projects). A total of 54 participants from 25 SAGA signatory countries attended the meeting.
During the first day, a brainstorming plenary session with 29 sequenced presentations challenged SAGA’s MC members to describe their work, groups, proposals and ideas related to SAGA’s in a speedy 6’40’’. The session allowed to the MC members to learn a wee bit more about each other and start networking.
During the second day, the participants were split into 4 groups - one for each of the Working Groups (WG) in which SAGA is structured - and they worked intensively to develop their respective Action Plan, including: tasks prioritisation, tasks leader designations, consideration of new tasks beyond of those described in SAGA’s Memorandum of Understanding, plan activities, etc.
During the last day, all the participants gathered again in plenary and the WG leaders summarised the main outputs achieved in their groups and presented the Action Plans to all the participants. The second half of the day was dedicated to the Second Management Committee Meeting of SAGA.
This log includes some pictures of participants that contributed to the Brainstorming session (Day 1). If you want to catch a glimpse of what happened during the other two days of the meeting, I would suggest checking the posts uploaded in our two main social media groups:
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
The 1st call for applications for the Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITC) Conference Grants in the framework of COST Action SAGA — The Soil Science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance (CA17131) is now open. The deadline for applications is February 1, 2019. Other details on the ITC Conference Grants application can be found in the attached pdf. Please, feel free to extend this announcement to interested colleagues.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
The 1st call for applications for Short Term Scientific Missions (STMS) in the framework of COST Action SAGA — The Soil Science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance (CA17131) is now open. The STSM should be carried out between February 11, 2019 to March 28, 2019 (or April, 2019 under special conditions).The deadline for applications is January 28, 2019. Other details on the STSM application can be found in the attached pdf. Please, feel free to extend this announcement to interested colleagues.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
SAGA's grant proposal has just been published in Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) journal (check the link below this update).
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added a research item
Archaeological sites can be discovered and recorded in a high-resolution and non-invasive manner using geophysical methods. These measure the spatial variation of a range of physical properties of the soil which may be representative proxies of the subsurface archaeology. Less-invasive and cost-effective field procedures have become top-priority to mitigate the destructive effects on our cultural heritage from intensified land use, climate change and the current conflict panorama. At a time when many organisations are investing in advanced geophysical equipment, a major problem is that our ability to fully interpret the information available from geophysical datasets is still very limited. This deficiency prevents geophysical survey moving beyond basic prospection and becoming a significant tool for answering nuanced questions about archaeology and their host landscapes. This limitation arises from an incomplete understanding of the relationship between soil properties and geophysical measurements. Bridging this gap requires multi-disciplinary teams, testing novel methods, plus scholarly discussion to collate the outcomes of projects on this topic. Overcoming these challenges is a prerequisite for maximising the costeffectiveness of geophysical methods, realising the expected benefits of technological investment and allowing broader utility of geophysical methods in the cultural heritage sector. SAGA will build an international network of geophysicists, archaeologists, soil scientists and other experts to develop our capability to interpret geophysical data and promote research collaborations. Our vision is that after four years, SAGA will have created an environment within which emerging field procedures, enhanced data interpretation and a broader understanding of integrated geophysical methods can flourish.
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
SAGA's vice-chair, Dr Apostolos Sarris, will present our project at the Geoarchaeologist@Leiden conference in the University of Leiden that will take place on the 9th November 2018:
The conference is aiming to attract faculty members from different departments of Leiden University that have an interest in geoarchaeological approaches, landscape archaeology and the impact of geoarchaeology in the interpretation of the archaeological data.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added a research item
Contribution towards the workshop 'How to overcome the fragmentation in Cultural Heritage research and funding in the context of Horizon Europe?' organised by COST Association
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
COST Action SAGA participated in the workshop “How to overcome the fragmentation in Cultural Heritage research and funding in the context of Horizon Europe?”, organised by COST Association as part of the 7th International Euro-Mediterranean Conference (EuroMed 2018, Nicosia, Cyprus). The reasons why SAGA’s initial network of proposers decided to apply for a COST Action were presented and issues about fragmentation in infrastructure and knowledge discussed during a panel discussion.
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added an update
We are currently working on our website but you can find some more info about SAGA here: https://www.cost.eu/actions/CA17131#tabs/Name:overview
 
Carmen Cuenca-García
added a project goal
Archaeological sites can be discovered and recorded in a high-resolution and non-invasive manner using geophysical methods. These measure the spatial variation of a range of physical properties of the soil which may be representative proxies of the subsurface archaeology. Less-invasive and cost-effective field procedures have become top-priority to mitigate the destructive effects on our cultural heritage from intensified land use, climate change and the current conflict panorama.
At a time when many organisations are investing in advanced geophysical equipment, a major problem is that our ability to fully interpret the information available from geophysical datasets is still very limited. This deficiency prevents geophysical survey moving beyond basic prospection and becoming a significant tool for answering nuanced questions about archaeology and their host landscapes. This limitation arises from an incomplete understanding of the relationship between soil properties and geophysical measurements. Bridging this gap requires multi-disciplinary teams, testing novel methods, plus scholarly discussion to collate the outcomes of projects on this topic. Overcoming these challenges is a prerequisite for maximising the cost-effectiveness of geophysical methods, realising the expected benefits of technological investment and allowing broader utility of geophysical methods in the cultural heritage sector.
SAGA will build an international network of geophysicists, archaeologists, soil scientists and other experts to develop our capability to interpret geophysical data and promote research collaborations. Our vision is that after four years, SAGA will have created an environment within which emerging field procedures, enhanced data interpretation and a broader understanding of integrated geophysical methods can flourish.