Archaeological Exploration; Survey; or Reconnaissance

This article is to discuss everything about archaeological exploration or archaeological survey. How do archaeologists know where to dig? What is archaeological exploration? What is an archaeological survey? How do archaeologists conduct archaeological explorations? What is archaeological reconnaissance? What is the difference between exploration and excavation in archaeology? These are some questions archaeology enthusiasts ask: This essay will provide answers to many questions, including those. To achieve that, we need to go through each of the following topics:

  1. Introduction to archaeological exploration
  2. History of archaeological exploration
  3. Types of archaeological exploration
  4. Methods and techniques in archaeological exploration
  5. Tools and equipment used in archaeological exploration
  6. Archaeological exploration vs archaeological excavation

Since some of these topics require detailed descriptions, those are to be looked into in separate articles. However, this article will provide adequate insight into those topics regardless. At the end, you will gain good knowledge about archaeological exploration.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Archaeological Exploration; Survey; Reconnaissance

Before we move into archaeological exploration, we should remind ourselves: What is archaeology? Archaeology is the scientific study of past human culture, behaviour, and cognition through material remains left from the past. And exploration is the first step in a complete archaeological study. There are two synonyms for archaeological exploration: archaeological survey and archaeological reconnaissance. We can gain a general understanding of archaeological exploration once we look into the terminology, definition, and purposes of exploration.

What is exploration? What is survey? And what is reconnaissance?

In general, exploration is the action of exploring an unfamiliar area. That means searching, investigating, or inspecting something unknown or not known enough. We can explore anything, physical or non-physical. We can say we explore cities around the world and music around the world. The cities are physical, but the music is not. But regardless, we can explore both.

Generally, a survey means the act of examining something closely and carefully and recording all of it. Surveys are conducted on land, on buildings, on theories, etc. For instance, land surveys mean measuring an area of land and recording the details of it, especially on a map.

Reconnaissance means preliminary surveying or research. That means the observation and investigation are done prior to the rest of the activities. In an archaeological context, if excavation is the main activity of a research project, the preliminary activity would be exploration. In that case, it refers to archaeological reconnaissance.

Basically, all of these terms—archaeological exploration, archaeological survey, and archaeological reconnaissance—are synonyms for each other. However, there are slight differences in these basic terms, as evident above.

Explorations can be any action taken to investigate something, even digging out the ground. Meanwhile, surveys are more likely to be careful inspections without intervening with what is being inspected in any way and keeping precise records. The reconnaissance is more likely to be investigations that are done as preparations for what comes next. Also, there are some regions in the world that prefer each of these terms uniquely.

So, what is archaeological exploration? We can understand it further by looking at the definition of archaeological exploration.

Definition of Archaeological Exploration, Survey, or Reconnaissance

Simply put, Archaeological exploration, archaeological survey, or archaeological reconnaissance is the systematic method of searching for archaeological remains to identify and record archaeological sites and archaeological remains.

That means in archaeological exploration, we may look for archaeological sites we haven’t yet recognised, and we may look for archaeological data (material remains) at a site we have already recognised.

Yet, archaeologists may even conduct excavations at sites where they have already conducted explorations. If the site has changed drastically due to natural or man-made causes, or if the site faces an eminent threat of destruction, they may conduct surveys again.

And also, if there is a groundbreaking development of exploration techniques, the repetition of exploration will take place. However, in this scenario, archaeologists have the benefit of being able to compare the results of previous surveys with the latest. Thus, it is important to keep in mind that not all the explorations are for unknown sites. However, technically, any change of site or any change of technique can turn an explored site into an unexplored one. Ultimately, the above definition is valid for any of the archaeological explorations, survey, or reconnaissance.

Purpose of Archaeological Exploration

As seen in the definition of archaeological exploration, the primary purpose of archaeological surveying is to identify and record archaeological records at a site. An archaeological record means the entire record of material remains in a particular area. Archaeologists may find any type of material remains, such as pieces of pottery, bricks, stone flakes, burnt floor marks, quarry, roads, and wells. And, by that, they will determine a site as an archaeological site, and the composition of material remains in the site.

Considering all of these facts, we now have the answer to the question: What is an archaeological survey? Or what is archaeological exploration? Or what is archaeological reconnaissance? Archaeological exploration, survey, or reconnaissance is the method of knowing the presence of archaeological remains in a particular area without conducting excavations.

We can explore deeper to comprehend more about archaeological exploration, and that is exactly what we do in the following sections.

History of Archaeological Exploration: Origin and Development of Archaeological Exploration

Archaeological exploration does not have a history that goes beyond the history of archaeological excavation. As we already know archaeology was not born overnight, and it has a history of gradual development. So, we need to look back into the history of archaeology to understand the history of archaeological exploration. We can start with the background era of archaeology and study how archaeological exploration was formed and evolved until today.

History of Archaeological Exploration During the Background Era of Archaeology

And we already know that, during the background era of archaeology, the curiosity of the past and of material remains left from the past caused the human population to have an undying passion for searching for the past. With folklore culture growing around the material remains left from the past and their creators, the quest for looking for hidden cities, civilizations, and ruins became a tread. These are the common characteristics of this era. However, since this era spans thousands of years,  to make it easy to understand, we can divide this era as the easiest-to-understand civilization period or before the Roman era, the Roman period, and the mediaeval period.

History of Archaeological Exploration During the Earliest Civilization Period

Besides the fact that records of this era’s archaeological exploration are rare, it is obvious that exploring for archaeological remains was practiced. The scientific study we refer to as archaeology might not have been there, but the search for material remnants left from the past was there. Pharaoh’s excavations and reconstruction of a sphinx in 2nd millennia BCE in Egypt, and Nabonidus excavation and interpretation of a building in the 6th century BCE suggest that, just as excavation was there, exploration may have been there. But we cannot be certain; we can only make an educated guess.

History of Archaeological Exploration During the Roman Period

According to historical records from the Roman era, considerable systematic exploration for material remains happened. The Romans not only explored material remains; they preserved them. They coined the term antiquities to refer to old and rare objects. People who were interested in those antiquities kept records of them and collected and preserved those records or manuscripts by making copies of them. This practice continued even after the fall of the Roman Empire.

History of Archaeological Exploration During the Earliest Civilization Period

As we discussed in the article on antiquarianism, during the mediaeval age, antiquarians focused on manuscripts. They collected and preserved available manuscripts, and they composed new ones, recording manuscripts. And they conducted surveys, discovered monuments, and recorded them, their state of preservation, and their characteristics. During the Roman era, the general practice was to collect antiquities systematically. But, during the mediaeval era, that faded away. Instead, keeping records and collecting records of monuments and inscriptions continued further. That represented the basic characteristic of archaeological exploration, which is the identification and recording of archaeological records.

History of Archaeological Exploration During the Renaissance Era

Then, during the first half of the Renaissance, these expeditions slowly spread. Dilettantism took over antiquarianism. They looked for antiquities. They began to excavate the ground to unearth antiquities. It is obvious that they explored the sites for antiquities before they began excavation. And also, it is obvious that, even after the excavation became popular, exploration from today’s archaeological perspective may have been the best option for them as it is cost-effective and time-effective.

Then, when we look at the actual data about this era, we can see that the pioneers or notable figures in antiquarianism conducted extensive surveys and recorded all the material remains they found. Though dilettantism took over scholarly antiquarianism, antiquarians continued their work from the beginning of the Renaissance era and revived the subject in the 16th century. With this shift, archaeology emerged.

Meanwhile, traditional antiquarians continued recording monuments and inscriptions and preserving manuscripts. Expeditions to rediscover the monuments described in the ancient manuscripts continued further. Recording all of the physical remains of the past was one of their main tasks. One prime example of exploration during this age is John Aubery’s Monumenta Britannica. The King of England appointed him, and he conducted surveys and recorded old buildings in Britain.

History of Archaeological Exploration During the 18th Century

During the 18th century, archaeology was establishing itself in the scholarly world. New archaeological discoveries were made. Accidental discoveries were among them. The discovery of Pompeii and herculaneum marked the major accidental discovery during this period. However, the architects, antiquarians, and archaeologists conducted surveys to recognise archaeological sites as well as archaeological evidence within sites.

During this era, the difference between exploration and excavation was barely evident. For instance, the exploration of Pompeii under the king of Napes had excavations in it. Mainly, the project was to explore the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. But their exploration included excavations. Hence, from a modern archaeological perspective, the Pompeii explorations are rather excavations. Since this era was the forming age of excavations and experts had not realised that excavations are destructive, there was an inclination towards excavations. Therefore, well-planned or intentional archaeological surveys were rare to find during the 18th century. However, in that context, archaeological explorations were evident.

History of Archaeological Exploration in and after the 19th Century

In and after the 19th century, archaeology evolved as a scientific discipline. During the 19th century, excavation methods were introduced and refined. Then, after the 19th century, technological advancement and the development of other sciences had a huge impact on archaeology. Technology brought new tools and equipment, and the sciences brought new methods. The use of photography, aerial photography, mapping, scanning, radar, sonar, electricity, and magnetism is widespread within archaeological studies.

Meanwhile, archaeologists started to review excavations and realised that excavation is always destructive. Therefore, they needed an alternative method of exploration. They utilised advanced technology and knowledge to conduct surveys both inland and underwater. Hence, archaeological exploration or archaeological reconnaissance became the first step of a systematic archaeological study that uses the latest technology. Without conducting excavations and causing the destruction of archaeological records, archaeologists could determine the archaeological record of sites. And also, they could know where to excavate and how to excavate before the excavation began. This way, archaeological reconnaissance became the first and most important step in archaeological studies by the end of the 20th century.

As we discussed here, it is clear that archaeological exploration was also a gradually emerging practice within archaeology. Without any scientific foundations, exploration has been a part of archaeology since the earliest times, when humans looked into the past and left material remains from the past. However, systematic and scientific modern archaeological exploration originated in the 20th century with the development of advanced technology and sciences.

Types of Archaeological Exploration

Archaeological exploration is a broad topic. And also, the earth we conduct archaeological explorations on is not quite the same everywhere. Sometimes, archaeological sites are inland, or sometimes they are submerged or fully merged in the sea. Sometimes they are in a lake, river, or other sort of water body. Last but not least, some archaeological sites and archaeological records are too large to get a whole picture at once.

Hence, conducting archaeological studies in such conditions and environments requires unique sets of methods and techniques. Based on the environmental factors of the site where we conduct exploration and on the unique methods and techniques we use at such sites, archaeological exploration or archaeological survey is divided into 3 types, as follows:

  1. Ground Reconnaissance (Inland Reconnaissance)
  2. Underwater Reconnaissance
  3. Aerial Reconnaissance

In this part of the article, these three types will be introduced and explained. The techniques and methods that archaeologists use in each of these types of exploration will be covered in a separate section.

Ground Reconnaissance

Ground reconnaissance is the term for archaeological exploration that is conducted inland. Explorations done anywhere that is not submerged in water belong under this category. There are three types of ground surveys:

  1. surface survey (field walk)
  2. geophysical survey
  3. geochemical survey

In a surface survey, the surface of the ground is carefully examined without any excavation to determine any indication of an archaeologically important feature.

In a geophysical survey, both the surface and the subsurface of the ground are examined using physical properties such as electricity, magnetism, radiation, and sound to determine any indication of archaeologically important features.

As you might have guessed, in a geochemical survey, both the surface and the subsurface of the ground are examined using chemical properties to determine any indication of archaeological evidence.

All of the types involve recording, as it is the backbone of archaeological surveying.

Even though we mention these as types in general for ease of understanding, they are methods in ground survey. Therefore, the section on methods and techniques in archaeological exploration will provide further information.

Read the full article on ground survey in archaeology>>

Underwater Reconnaissance

In archaeology, underwater reconnaissance is one of the most adventurous activities that any archaeologist can ever engage in. As mentioned above, there are numerous sites that are submerged in water but contain archaeological records. Therefore, to fulfil the common goal of archaeological exploration, archaeologists conduct underwater surveys. Basically, the purpose and the methods are similar to the ground survey but uniquely adapted to aquatic environments.

Archaeologists use diving equipment, special lighting, and recording devices to conduct surveys. Further, modern technology plays a huge role in underwater surveys in archaeology. Remote control drone robots, radar, and sonar are only three of them.

Aerial Photography

Aerial photography in archaeology means taking aerial photos and analysing them, combining them with in-field research to determine archaeological sites and archaeological records.

This is a different type of archaeological exploration when compared to the other two types. With ground surveys and underwater surveys, the difference is in the environment in which the sites are located. And both of those exploration types are onsite explorations. But with aerial photography, the survey happens outside the site and its environment. And there is nothing archaeologically located in the sky to explore. Instead, both land and water masses on the earth are explored in aerial photography in archaeology.

Aarchaeologists adopted aerial photography from warfare. Initially, a light aircraft is used. Later on, air balloons and drone crafts were introduced. This exploration type is highly dependent on advanced technology. The photographs that are taken from the sky are decoded and analysed to determine archaeological sites and evidence.

This exploration type has already provided some remarkable discoveries, not only in the archaeological field but on a global scale. The Mexican crop marks and the Nazca lines are just two of them. This exploration method is highly effective in discovering mega-scale features in the ground. Nonetheless, aerial photography can identify large sunken ships in the sea. Overall, this provides the big picture of archaeological sites that on-site exploration cannot provide.

Methods and Techniques in Archaeological Exploration

Archaeological Reconnaissance consists of three main types, as mentioned above. Each of those exploration types consists of several methods. And each of those methods consists of several techniques. Some of these methods and techniques share commonalities among the main types. Meanwhile, some of these methods and techniques are unique to each type and method.

Since there are a lot of information to include under this topic as well as it needs to be very detailed for a good understanding, there will be a separate article for this topic. Here only an overview of methods and techniques in archaeological survey will be included.

Methods and Techniques in Ground Reconnaissance in Archaeological Exploration

Ground reconnaissance includes three methods and several techniques in each method.

1. Surface Survey

Surface survey in archaeological exploration means the visual inspection of the earth’s surface while walking on the field to recognise archaeological features and sites.

In surface survey in archaeological exploration, there are two methods: random survey and systematic survey, which go by their names. The technique in this method is visual inspection.

2. Geophysical Survey

Geophysical survey in archaeological exploration means the systematic examination of the earth’s physical properties using non-invasive methods to determine archaeological features and sites on both the surface and subsurface.

This method is named geophysical as it explores physical properties and incorporates physics. Archaeologists may conduct geophysical studies on-site and above the site.

Geophysical survey includes several techniques as follows:

  1. Borehole Sampling
  2. Electronic Resistivity Tomography – ERT
  3. Magnetometry
  4. Ground Penetrating Radar -GPR
  5. Light Detection and Ranging – LiDAR
  6. Geographical Information System – GIS

Archaeologists employ these techniques according to the purpose, circumstances, climate, weather, and funding of the research project. Among these, there are on-site techniques as well as off-site or remote sensing techniques, and they also provide 2D and 3D models of the subsurface and the surface of archaeological sites.

3. Geochemical Survey

Geochemical survey means studying the chemical composition of a site to determine chemical changes in the soil that result from past human activities and to recognise archaeological sites.

This method includes several highly sophisticated techniques. Also, there are two categories: reconnaissance geochemical survey and detailed geochemical survey, in this method. The importance of this method is that it can detect sites with past human activities even though they are zero with any physical remnants.

Geochemical survey includes techniques such as:

  1. soil sampling
  2. sediment sampling
  3. bedrock sampling
  4. vegetation sampling

This technique enables us to scientifically know if an area was preoccupied with human settlers in the past, even though there are no other physical or literary indications. Archaeologists can detect farm lands, garbage pits, soil pits, and other human activity-related indicators on a microscopic scale using this method.

In summary, the methods of surface survey, geophysical survey, and geochemical survey are often referred to as types of ground survey in archaeology. Even though referring to them as types is not incorrect, it is best to keep in mind that surface survey and geophysical survey are two methods of ground survey in archaeological exploration. Similarly, the random survey and the systematic survey are often referred to as types of surface surveys, when in fact, they are two different approaches to surface surveys. Each approach is followed by a specific methodology that consists of unique techniques.

Additionally, in ground reconnaissance, according to the way the exploration progresses on the site, there are several methods. Those are:

  1. grid system method
  2. linear system method
  3. circular method (spiral method)

These methods mean how the person or the remote-controlled equipment continues to move while exploring a site using any of the above methods: surface survey, geophysical survey, or geochemical survey.

Read more about methods and techniques in ground reconnaissance in archaeological exploration>>

Methods and Techniques in Underwater Reconnaissance in Archaeological Exploration

Underwater reconnaissance uses both common and unique exploration methods and techniques. Some of them are very similar or even the same as ground reconnaissance, while others are highly sophisticated for aquatic conditions. There are two main methods, according to observation types, for underwater reconnaissance.

  1. visual search method
  2. electronic search method

Visual Search Method

The visual search method means visual inspection of the bottom of the water body for archaeological records and sites. This method is the counterpart of surface survey in ground reconnaissance and has some unique characteristics.

The visual search method consists of the following techniques:

  1. Swim Line Searches
  2. Towed Search Techniques
  3. Jack-Stay or Corridor Searches
  4. Grid Search
  5. Circular Search

Electronic Search Method

The electronic search method is the geophysical method. Archaeologists use several techniques to inspect the subsurface of the bottom of the water body. It can be an on-site or remote-sensing method. Also, this method can cover the surface of the bottom of the water body.

The electronic search method, or geophysical method, in underwater reconnaissance and archaeological surveying consists of several techniques, such as:

  1. Sonar
  2. LiDAR
  3. Magnetometry

Both the visual search method and the electronic search method play uniquely invaluable roles in underwater reconnaissance, according to the aims, funding, and nature of the sites.

Methods and Techniques in Aerial Photography in Archaeological Exploration

Aerial photography meant a light aircraft taking overlapping pictures of the surface of the earth and analysing the images for features on the ground. One of the areas that emerged and evolved rapidly in the last few decades was aerial photography.

It is important to understand that aerial photography is different from other aerial exploration methods. Remote sensing methods such as LiDAR belong to geophysical methods, as the surveys in them are conducted using physical properties such as radiation, sound, and electromagnetism. Both remote sensing methods and aerial photography fall into the same category: aerial reconnaissance methods. But aerial photography and those other airborne methods are not similar in any other way.

When it comes to aerial photography, there are several techniques:

  1. takes both vertical and angle images of the ground.
  2. takes overlapping images.
  3. takes images when the sunrays drop on the earth at an angle to capture shadow marks.

And also, there are three altitude levels for aerial photography, as follows:

  • Lower altitude – below 0-5000 feet
  • Medium altitude – 5000-20,000 feet
  • High altitude – above 20,000 feet

Additionally, techniques such as infrared imagery show new developments in aerial photography. However, though those images use radiation more than the visual spectrum of light, we call those methods remote sensing methods. And as mentioned above, since remote sensing methods incorporate physics and physical properties such as radiation and sound waves, we consider those methods to be geophysical methods. Since those methods are conducted in the air with an aircraft, drone, or satellite, we call them airborne geophysical survey methods. So, by aerial photography, we mean conventional photography.

Tools and Equipment used in Archaeological Exploration

Archaeologists use simple tools as well as highly sophisticated equipment in archaeological exploration. All of these tools are specifically designed for warfare or geological and nautical surveys. What archaeologists do is employ these tools and equipment, as well as apply the theories in other disciplines of archaeological studies. Here is a list of 20 noteworthy instruments and equipment used in archaeological exploration.

  1. Theodolite
  2. Dumpy Level
  3. Electromagnetic Conductivity Meters
  4. Gradiometer
  5. Magnetometer
  6. Ground Penetrating Radar
  7. Spectrometer
  8. Global Positioning System Unit – GPS unit
  9. Total Station
  10. Underwater Robotic Vehicle – ROV
  11. Underwater Unmanned Vehicle – UUV
  12. Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles – AUV
  13. Unmanned Survey Vehicle – USV
  14. Multibeam Echo Sounder
  15. Side Scan Sonar
  16. Sound Velocity Profilers
  17. Underwater Laser scanners
  18. Weather Monitoring Stations
  19. Underwater Altimeters
  20. LiDAR

Archaeologists use these instruments and tools, along with the specific recording instruments, to conduct explorations. Detailed descriptions of these instruments and equipment, including their function, application, and use, will be provided in a separate article.

Importance of Archaeological Exploration; Survey; or Reconnaissance

The importance of archaeological exploration, survey, or reconnaissance may be obvious to you by now. However, there are several reasons why it is important and how it is important. Archaeological exploration is important because:

Archaeological reconnaissance is the essential foundation step for excavations and research beyond

As mentioned earlier, the exploration serves as the first step in a long process of archaeological study. Therefore, eventually, this is what gives the initiative to archaeological studies. The information we gain from archaeological exploration provides us with insight into the archaeological site and its composition. That helps us plan and execute excavation.

When it comes to excavation, the type of excavation, the place of the excavation pit, the time and cost estimation of the excavation, the experts required for the excavation, and many more are decided based on the results of the reconnaissance. For instance, if we discover a prehistoric site, we need expertise in prehistoric archaeology to conduct excavations. Also, if we discover the archaeological record buried at the site is sensitive, we can be ready with tools and equipment to extract and conserve it as soon as possible. This way, every aspect of excavation is based on exploration. As we already know, excavation is destruction. But an excavation without an exploration is a disaster!

Further, any other research work may be well-backed up by the explorations we conduct. That may be an excavation. Or that may be another enhanced exploration. Whatever it is, any future research will rely on the exploration.

In this way, archaeological exploration is important because it leads to efficient excavation and research work, making us more productive in revealing the human past.

Archaeological Reconnaissance Identifies Cultural Heritage Sites and Their Recognition is the First Step in Their Preservation

Archaeological reconnaissance is the way of recognising unknown archaeological sites and the archaeological record of the sites. And recognition is the first important thing in conservation. If we do not know what archaeological significance an area holds or what archaeological record and site hide beneath, the site and its material remains will vanish over time without us knowing about it.

So, in that case, exploration comes and enables us to identify archaeological sites and archaeological records. Because of this, we get the chance to preserve or conserve our human heritage. Both the material heritage, such as artefacts and structures, as well as the intangible heritage, such as customs, beliefs, and knowledge, gain the chance of being noticed and conserved due to the exploration. Whether there is excavation or not, what is discovered in exploration will be conserved, indicating how important archaeological exploration is.

Further, archaeological exploration serves beyond academic purposes to ensure the safety of archaeological heritage. By identifying sites and archaeological records that are at risk of destruction due to various factors, such as development projects, it enables experts to capture conservation methods.

Archaeological Exploration Contributes to Studying the Human Past or Reconstructing History by Providing Data

We usually tend to think that excavation is the only way to reconstruct history. But it is not. Excavation provides us with material remains more precisely and comprehensively in a chosen area, enabling us to obtain a full archaeological record. So, obviously, archaeological excavation takes the lead in providing data for reconstructing the human past. However, the archaeological exploration or survey is not far behind the excavation.

As we know, the excavation is limited. We cannot excavate the entire site due to many reasons, such as time, funding, and the destructive nature of excavation. But with exploration, we have the ability to recognise archaeologic records with relatively less time and funding and with no destruction at all. Geophysical survey techniques and aerial photography are prime examples of that. With these survey methods, we can discover the changes in rivers, the settlement patterns, and the mega-scale structures buried underneath, which we cannot detect with any excavation method.

Archaeological exploration provides data that cannot be retrieved in any other way.

Most importantly, explorations provide information that even archaeological excavations cannot provide. For instance, soil sample tests and vegetation tests can say a lot about ancient land use practices, subsistence patterns, food, and climate changes and how people face them. Here, archaeological exploration goes beyond the material remains and provides scientific data. Geochemical survey techniques are examples. And also, these types of scientific data that archaeologists acquire from explorations can collaboratively provide a wider understanding of any archaeological site and archaeological record within sites.

So, it is well evident how important archaeological exploration is in revealing the human past.

Archaeological Exploration Inspires Public Engagement in Archaeological Heritage Management

The inspiration archaeological exploration provides the general public to engage with archaeology and heritage management is noteworthy. Without community engagement, there won’t be any heritage conservation. Similar to the excavation step and the publishing-exhibiting step, the exploration step facilitates a platform for the general public to engage with archaeology, indicating its significance.

In summary, we can say archaeological exploration, survey, or reconnaissance is as important as archaeological excavation.

Read the full article on Archaeological Exploration vs Archaeological Excavation>>


In summary, archaeological exploration is the systematic method of recognising and recording archaeological sites and archaeological records. And it is the first step in an archaeological study. It consists of two types: ground reconnaissance and underwater reconnaissance, according to the environment of the sites. Then, aerial photography serves both ground and underwater reconnaissance as an airborne survey method. Lately, remote sensing methods have been a huge part of archaeological exploration. Remote sensing methods fall into the category of geophysical survey methods as they use physical properties for the survey. Similar to aerial photography, remote sensing methods are airborne and also applicable for both ground and underwater surveys. Additionally, archaeological exploration is a constantly evolving field in terms of technology, productivity, and contribution to archaeological research.

What is exploration? what is excavation? Looking for an explanation? Read this article: Archaeological Exploration vs Archaeological Excavation