Paul Barford sees excavation as having a subsidiary role to the more general
overview the geophysical results provide ('more than once a trench has been
merely to verify the geophys'.). How very odd.
Geophy is a valuable archaeological tool but ultimately cannot replace
excavation if a site is to be even adequately understood. It is necessary to
'verify' the often ambiguous plot evidence by invasive fieldwork or you just
end up with a lot of untested speculation. Geophys doesn't
give you hard dating evidence or structural detail, and doesn't allow the
nuances of site use (diet/economy) and development to be examined in any
detail. My view of its use on TT projects is that it offers a range of
possible interpretations which will always need to be tested by
More than once recently the point has been made on the programme that the
geophys people did not say that what they had picked up WERE definitely
walls and ditches, rather they just pointed out the anomalies and suggested
what could cause them, leaving the burden of proof to spadework.
Dependent upon the nature of the threat to an archaeological site on which
geophys is undertaken the pattern may be so familiar (e.g a roman villa?)
that the function, type and even broad dating can be determined from the
plots. If just recording the presence of sites in the landscape this is
fine, but it is unlikely that this would be seen as sufficient mitigation
for any significant site threatened with whole or partial destruction.