Tracing settlement history in Franconia through geophysical prospection

In cooperation with the Bavarian State Office for Heritage Management (BLfD) we are conducting ground penetrating radar (GPR) surveys to trial the archaeological prospection method on a variety of soils and historic structures buried in the subsurface, with the goal to establish a database on the potential use in the region. Franconia is rich in cultural remains of the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age period, as well as early to late medieval times, of which many have left none or few masonry traces. The aim is to figure out the GPR’s value for particular research questions and then concentrate on sites with the most archaeological prospection potential (Michl & Sonnemann 2017) Wherever the gpr application successfully records underground cultural features, the results help to better understand settlement history in this region, and provide assistance to local heritage management.

These GPR surveys are usually being conducted as part of exercises with local and in cooperation with colleagues from the institute to introduce them to one of the most versatile archaeological prospection method. The intention is to provide an overview on the method, a basic theoretical idea on the function, application of the equipment in the field, and a closer look into processing and visualization steps.

Articles in the regional daily newspaper Mainpost:

Article in the regional daily newspaper Fränkischer Tag:


    GPR surveys were conducted at these sites::

    DateLocationFocal ObjectCooperation
    Juli 2021Würzgburg, Lower FranconiaCourtyard of Marienberg FortressBLfD, city council Würzburg
    June 2021Bamberg, Upper FranconiaBamberg Cathedral, west sideN. Lohwasser
    May 2021Riedbach, Lower FranconiaKleinsteinach SynagogueMayorry Riedbach, Museum Kleinsteinach
    August 2020Wiesenttal, Upper FranconiaCastle NeideckBLfD (as part of the summer school)
    July 2020Forchheim, Upper FranconiaMuseum of the PalatinateM. Hoffmann
    June 2020Franconian Alps, Upper FranconiaGörauer AngerT. Seregély
    December 2019 & June 2020Forchheim, Upper FranconiaSt. Martin churchM. Hoffmann
    August 2018Bamberg, Upper FranconiaBamberg CathedralCathedral Masonry Workshop (Dombauhütte, as part of the summer school)
    July & November 2018Werneck, UnterfrankenCastle WerneckHistorischer Arbeitskreis Werneck
    Juni & Oktober 2018Hetzleser Berg, Upper FranconiaEarly medieval fortificationsM. Hoffmann
    September 2017Königsfeld, Upper FranconiaBronzeage SettlementT. Seregély
    June 2017Hollfeld, Upper FranconiaMedieval ovenH. Losert
    June 2017Staffelberg, Upper FranconiaCeltic oppidumBLfD
    May 2017Schweinfurt, Lower FranconiaMedieval churchA. Schäfer
    February 2017Gerolzhofen, Frankenmedieval InfirmaryE. Michl