This year, our ASU field school students are performing a multi-sensor geophysical survey at Hamburg Cemetery. The site is located on the bluffs above Hamburg, IL and overlooks the Mississippi River in Calhoun County. There appear to be 8 prehistoric mounds built along the edge of the bluff, none of which have ever been formally excavated. Aside from our interest in the mounds, the results of our students’ work will also help cemetery board members locate and record unmarked graves across the site.

A view of Hamburg Cemetery Mound 4 with historic graves in foreground

A view of Hamburg Cemetery mound 4 with historic graves in foreground

Similar to our previous work at the Hardin Cemetery, the Hamburg Cemetery consists of prehistoric, historic and modern burials. All of the prehistoric mounds that line the bluff crest of the Hamburg Cemetery also have historic and/or modern burials placed into them. While this reuse of the cemetery is significant in terms of a landscape history, it also poses the added challenge of teasing apart prehistoric anomalies from the more recent historic and modern anomalies detected by the geophysical instruments.

Over the next two weeks, our 2014 field crew – Ty, Avery, Wes, April, and Maddie – will be learning how to use a suite of geophysical and land surveying instruments. These include a magnetometer, resistance meter, ground penetrating radar, as well as both a regular and robotic total station for topographic mapping.

Unfortunately, rain kept us from the field during the first half of this week. However, our students have collected some promising data from the north half of the site, which includes some of the more visible mounds such as Mound 4. They have been diligently processing their data with Dr. Duncan McKinnon during evening lab time and are excited to share the results of their work. Check back soon for updates, photos, and preliminary results of our survey! Also be sure to visit our Flickr page for a complete gallery of our field photos.

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