Frequency Domain Electromagnetic Induction: An Efficient Method for Investigating Fort Ancient Village Dynamics

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Electromagnetic induction (EMI) has been used in archaeology for decades, but still lags in use and development when compared to magnetometry and ground-penetrating radar. While it has become more popular than electrical resistivity area survey, it is now less commonly used than electrical resistivity tomography. The EMI method is likely underutilized due to drift problems and a lack of multi-sensor, vehicle-towed systems capable of rapid, high-density data collection. In this article we demonstrate not only the effectiveness of EMI survey, but a case where entire villages would have remained undetected without it. At the Singer-Hieronymus Site in central Kentucky, USA, a vehicle-towed frequency domain EMI survey detected the location of plazas, residential areas, and trash disposal areas across multiple Fort Ancient villages that contained both intact and heavily disturbed deposits. Additionally, three new villages were revealed. Through this process, we discovered how Fort Ancient village dynamics may be studied through a geophysical investigation of village shape, size, and spatial organization.