Criteria for selecting the appropriate combination of sensors when searching for cultural features within an archaeological site are poorly developed and sorely needed for the economic application of remote sensing in archaeology. The Hollywood Mounds, a late prehistoric ceremonial center in the lower Mississippi alluvial valley of the southeastern United State, has been the subject of a large number of remote sensing experiments using a wide variety of both digital airborne and geophysical sensors. In addition, two seasons of ground truth excavations have been carried out at the site. Multivariate statistical analyses, beginning with a map of the known locations of house and mound remnants, allow us to derive quantitative measures of the relative value of the various instruments in this specific but fairly typical context.
Cultural resource management archaeology in the United States concerns compliance with legislation set in place to protect archaeological resources from the impact of modern activities. Traditionally, surface collection, shovel testing, test excavation, and mechanical stripping are used in these projects. These methods are expensive, time consuming, and may poorly represent the features within archaeological sites. The use of remote sensing techniques in cultural resource management archaeology may provide an answer to these problems. Near-surface geophysical techniques, including magnetometry, resistivity, electromagnetics, and ground penetrating radar, have proven to be particularly successful at efficiently locating archaeological features. Research has also indicated airborne and satellite remote sensing may hold some promise in the future for large-scale archaeological survey, although this is difficult in many areas of the world where ground cover reflect archaeological features in an indirect manner. A cost simulation of a hypothetical data recovery project on a large complex site in Mississippi is presented to illustrate the potential advantages of remote sensing in a cultural resource management setting. The results indicate these techniques can save a substantial amount of time and money for these projects.