Archaeologists will look beneath the soil

Archaeologists have long wished to be able to see into the ground. Instead, for nearly 200 years, they have been forced to dig trenches, test holes and meticulously scrape away the soil.

There is  lot of soil and plenty of archaeological sites still undiscovered.

But now researchers at the sites of the famous stone balls will be getting a peek into the ground without disturbing it. The  Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales at the Universidad de Costa Rica has agreed to share its ground penetrating radar with the Museo Nacional staffers.

The  Laboratorio has the equipment for checking the engineering and condition of roadways.

The museum also is getting three-dimensional scanner laser devices to very accurately create a representation of the topography of the sites and also create very accurate computer models of the spheres that archeologists know exists. The scanning laser device very quickly scans and records thousands of data points. The devices have been used to create three-dimensional computer images of historic buildings and even former battlegrounds.

The museum has four sites in the canton of Osa, and the stone balls are being considered for inclusion in the list of United Nation world heritage sites. Only recently did archeologists expose a stone sphere that was underground. They will use the radar to see if there are more.

The laboratory also will provide the technicians to operate the devices during this pilot project, the museum said.

Using ground penetrating radar is not new. A.M. Costa Rica reported Tuesday that researchers in Spain are planning to use ground penetrating radar to search the floor of a Madrid convent for the bones of  Miguel de Cervantes.

He is the author of what is considered the world’s first novel, “The Adventures of the Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.”

Records show Cervantes died in poverty at 69 on April 22, 1616. His remains were reportedly entombed in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid’s historic Barrio de las Letras, or literary quarter. The exact location of the remains within the convent is unknown, said the newspaper’s wire services

The cost of the Spanish endeavor is expected to be $138,000, the wire services said.

The devices also are used to test the composition of soil.

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