Background and activities
I am a researcher in archaeo-geophysics at NTNU since 2017 and a member of the TEMAR (Terrestrial, Marine and Aerial Remote sensing for archaeology) research group. With a background in archaeology (Valencia, 1998) and ~7 years in rescue archaeology (Spain & UK), I developed my engagement with non-destructive prospection of archaeology sites and landscapes using near-surface geophysics via an MSc (Bradford, 2008) and a PhD (Glasgow, 2013). I have held research and consultancy positions in Greece (GeoSat ReSeArch Lab, IMS-FORTH, 2013-15) and Austria (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization-CTBTO, 2015-16).
My research portfolio is cross-disciplinary between archaeology, applied geophysics, geosciences and heritage management, and focuses on the application and development of innovative integrated geophysical methods to study sub-surface archaeological sites and landscapes in a non-destructive and high-resolution manner. My research showcases the potential of geophysical methods in archaeology beyond prospection (i.e. bare presence/absence of archaeology) and demonstrates that these diagnostic methods are the best ally to complement and maximise the results provided by more traditional archaeological strategies (e.g. research excavation or trial trenching in archaeological evaluation). The main topics of my research activity could be summarised as:
- Investigating buried prehistoric landscapes and extensive ancient urban areas using high-resolution geophysical prospection: Projects within this topic include: IGEAN ‘Innovative geophysical approaches for the study of early agricultural villages of Neolithic Thessaly'; Ancient City - Application of Innovative Geoinformatics Technologies for the Study of Urbanization in Ancient Greece; and currently, the recently selected GEOIbers (AICO 2020/250) ‘Prospección geofísica de yacimientos ibéricos’.
- Developing combined strategies using geophysics & soil analyses for augmented and minimally invasive site/feature characterisation: During my PhD, I focused on improving the understanding of proxy signatures of buried archaeological features by exploring the relationships between geophysical and geochemical responses of known targets at five contrasting sites in Scotland. As a postdoc in Greece, I had the opportunity to build on my PhD findings by complementing the results of geophysical surveys carried out at several well-known Greek and Cypriot sites with those obtained from a range of soil analyses and surface artefacts scattering. Towards the end of my appointment, I co-organised the first workshop on Interactions between Soil Science and Geophysics in Archaeological Prospection (ISSGAP 1) in 2015 which brought together a group of 12 researchers, working on the integration of soil analysis and archaeo-geophysics. We gathered again in 2017 (ISSGAP 2) to draft a proposal to apply for a COST Action to properly support our activities. The proposal was selected in 2018 and I was elected the chair of the COST Action SAGA (CA17131) 'The Soil Science & Archaeo-geophysics Alliance: going beyond prospection' during the kick-off meeting. SAGA is a four-year EU-funded research network project involving 118 experts in geophysics, archaeology, and soil science from 37 countries, coming from research, heritage management and commercial environments. SAGA’s goal is to promote and develop research activities bringing together geophysics and soil science to maximise the interpretation of proxy data for archaeological purposes. Beyond SAGA coordination, I am exploring the use of archaeo-geophysical surveying in snow and frozen soil conditions with the idea of assessing the quality of the results to extend the 'traditional' fieldwork season, and developing other projects related to the recording and monitoring of endangered archaeological sites using combined proxy strategies.
- Humanitarian geophysics & climate change: Besides archaeological investigations, my interests have also developed in humanitarian applications of geophysical prospection. These include the use of high-resolution geophysics to find unmarked human burials, mass graves, and illegal infrastructure. I am a CTBTO inspector (roster) for the implementation of geophysical surveys during on-site inspections (verification regime of compliance with the CTB Treaty). I am a member of two international networks related to climate change, social justice and heritage: the COST Action CA20134 (Traces as Research Agenda for Climate Change, Technology Studies, and Social Justice), and the Climate Heritage Network.
(More info about my work at www.cuencagarcia.com)
I welcome enquires to supervise Masters and Doctoral thesis on topics related to archaeological geophysics, landscape archaeology (Nordic and Mediterranean regions) and endangered cultural heritage monitoring.
Scientific, academic and artistic work
A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database
- (2020) Sensing archaeology in the north: The use of non-destructive geophysical and remote sensing methods in archaeology in Scandinavian and North Atlantic territories. Remote Sensing. vol. 12:3102 (18).
- (2018) Soil geochemical methods in archaeo-geophysics: Exploring a combined approach at sites in Scotland. Archaeological Prospection.
- (2018) THE SOIL SCIENCE & ARCHAEO-GEOPHYSICS ALLIANCE (SAGA): going beyond prospection. Research Ideas and Outcomes_RIO. vol. 4.
- (2017) Lime Burning in Clamp Kilns in Scotland's Western Central Belt: Primitive Industry or Simple but Perfectly Adequate Technology?. Industrial Archaeology Review.
- (2017) A Regional Approach to Ancient Urban Studies in Greece Through Multi-Settlement Geophysical Survey. Journal of Field Archaeology.
- (2017) Geochemical survey of soil samples from the archaeological site Dromolaxia-Vyzakia (Cyprus), by means of micro-XRF and statistical approaches. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. vol. 11.
- (2015) A Satellite, Aerial and Low Altitude Approach for Ancient Greek Cities. ISAP News. vol. 42.
- (2015) Integrated geophysical and in-situ soil geochemical survey at Dromolaxia-Vizakia (Hala Sultan Tekke, Cyprus). Archaeologia Polona. vol. 53.
- (2015) Multi-component geophysical survey at the Classical Greek cities of Mantinea and Elis. Antiquity. vol. 89 (345).
- (2015) Towards an Integrated Remote Sensing Strategy for Revealing the Urban Details of the Hellenistic-Roman City of Demetrias, C. Greece. Archaeologia Polona. vol. 53.
- (2015) Cultural variations of the Neolithic landscape of Thessaly. Archaeologia Polona. vol. 53.
- (2015) Exposing the Urban Plan of the ancient city of Hyettos, Boeotia, Greece. Archaeologia Polona. vol. 53.
- (2015) How efficient is an integrative approach in archaeological geophysics? Comparative case studies from Neolithic settlements in Thessaly (Central Greece). Near Surface Geophysics. vol. 13.
- (2011) The SIMCA algorithm for processing ground-penetrating radar data and its use in locating foundations in demolished buildings. IEEE International Conference on Radar.
- (2019) De Kelin a Los Villares (Caudete de las Fuentes, Valencia): nacimiento y decadencia de una ciudad ibera. 2019. ISBN 8477958408. Series de Trabajos Varios, Servicio de Investigación Prehistórica del Museo de Prehistoria de Valencia (122).
- (2019) COST Action SAGA (CA17131) ’The Soil Science & Archaeo-geophysics Alliance: going beyond prospection. European Geosciences Union (EGU). 2019. ISBN 9781510848511.
Part of book/report
- (2019) Introducing the ‘Soil science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance’ (SAGA): a new interdisciplinary network in archaeo-geophysics. New Global Perspectives on Archaeological Prospection.
- (2017) Visviki Magoula revisited: Comparing past excavations' data to recent geophysical research. Communities, Landscapes and Interaction in Neolithic Greece.
- (2017) Opening a New Frontier in the Study of Neolithic Settlement Patterns of Eastern Thessaly, Greece. Communities, Landscapes and Interaction in Neolithic Greece.
- (2015) Inorganic Geochemical Methods in Archaeological Prospection. Best Practices of GeoInformatic Technologies for the Mapping of Archaeolandscapes.
- Other subjects within archaeology
- Archaeological survey
- Landscape Archaeology
- Archaeological science
- Cultural heritage and climate change
- Arctic Archaeology
- Archaeological remote sensing
- Soil analysis
- Archaeological geophysics
- Archaeological prospection
- Svalbard archaeology
- Endangered heritage sites
- Ground-penetrating radar