GPR Investigation of Archaeological Sites: Preliminary Results from Tel Yavne and Apollonia, Israel

Geoarchaeological excavations are expensive and time-consuming endeavors. With geophysical tools, such as ground penetrating radar (GPR), archaeological digs can be made more effective and efficient by aiding in identifying locations that show unique subsurface anomalies which appear to be anthropogenic in nature. During the summer of 2006, GPR data were collected at Tel Yavne and Apollonia, Israel. Yavne, located about 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, has a history that goes back thousands of years. After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, Yavne served as a center of Jewish learning and has subsequently been the site of a Byzantine city, a Crusader castle and Arab villages. Apollonia, named for the Greek god Apollo, existed as a Mediterranean coastal village as early as the 6th Century BCE and was the site of a Crusader fortress. GPR grids were collected adjacent to present excavations at Tel Yavne (7.5m x 13m) and Apollonia (20m x 30m) using 225 MHz antennae. The radar signals penetrated to approximate depths of 1.0m at Tel Yavne and 1.2m at Apollonia and revealed interesting anomalies (archaeological features?) in the GPR images. Preliminary analysis of the GPR data has led to the interpretation of potential walls, collapsed walls, and/or pits in the subsurface. The analysis and interpretation of the collected geophysical data will be used by site archeologists to guide future excavations.