The standardized pricking probe surveying and its use in Archaeology

S. Szalai, I. Lemperger, M. Pattantyús-Ábrahám, L. Szarka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we present the so-called standardized pricking probe surveying technique and demonstrate its usefulness in an archaeological study. The buried target is a Palaeochristian sepulchral chapel, which had already been excavated 82 years ago, then re-buried and forgotten.By applying this technique, it was possible to locate the buried remnants of the chapel in a large field, in spite of the dense undergrowth, where classical geophysical methods could have hardly been applied. When the area was mopped-up, a detailed and systematic pricking probe surveying was carried out, and completed with geoelectric, magnetic and georadar mapping. The standardized pricking probe images, at least in this field experiment, proved to be competitive to the geophysical maps.The optimum pricking probe parameters such as horizontal interval, pricking depth, observable quantity and the way of presentation were optimized through field experiments. For a detailed investigation a rectangular grid with an interval of 50. cm (i.e. a grid interval, corresponding to the wall thickness) is recommended, while for reconnaissance measurements a two times larger horizontal interval (1. m in this case) proved to be sufficient. In this case study the optimum pricking depth was 20-30. cm; in general it depends on the burial depth of the investigated object. For the presentation of the results a suitable running average of a two-valued observable quantity is defined.The merits of the standardized pricking probe technique are as follows: its field procedure and data processing are simple, it is cheap and relatively quick; it does not need any electronic instrument, therefore there are no investment costs and there is no risk of technical failures; the technique can be applied even among the most unfavourable field conditions like e.g. bad weather, extreme topography, dense undergrowth, etc. At the same time, the standardized pricking probe method should be applied only in areas, where the possible damaging of the buried structures is excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Archaeological survey
  • Geoelectrics
  • Geomagnetics
  • Geophysics
  • Georadar
  • Pricking probe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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