Lost Medieval Church Revealed

Customer’s task

Munifex is an archaeological prospecting company aiming to identify and raise awareness of Hungary’s national heritage elements. One of its current projects is to localize, and document lost medieval churches.

In Hungary, medieval churches were once a common sight, and these sacral edifices formed the centre of countless medieval villages. However, after the 16th century, the vast majority were abandoned and have long since perished and faded from memory. Nevertheless, these places still hold significant heritage value and are considered essential to their local communities’ culture.

Surprisingly, several thousand of these sites exist throughout Hungary, and prospecting them would seem like a daunting task.

ImpulseRadar’s solution

Fortunately, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technology offers a relatively straightforward and non-destructive way to investigate and visualize the subsurface. As an experienced group, the prospectors at Munifex routinely deploy GPR as part of their archaeological surveys.

However, given the average size of the church sites of interest (approx. 2-3000 m²), typical 2D GPR surveys would be rather time-consuming, not to mention the subsequent time needed for post-processing and interpretation of the collected data. Consequently, the company sought something more efficient, and after careful consideration, settled on the Raptor 3D GPR Array solution.

There is nothing inherently wrong with 2D GPR; however, the interpretation of 2D data can be subjective and require some skill. On the contrary, a 3D GPR solution used with appropriate processing software can simplify interpretation by removing the ambiguities faced by users of 2D GPR.

Archaeologists can expect to gain a significant advantage when using a 3D GPR approach. For example, Raptor offers multiple tightly-spaced measurement profiles operating simultaneously, which means more data with denser coverage in a single pass compared to a typical 2D deployment. Such 3D data density makes it possible to view the subsurface from any direction to give a more precise visualization, which aids interpretation for a more reliable result.

Besnyo Church Site GPR survey


Using Raptor has dramatically increased our on-site productivity and streamlined our survey operations for these lost church sites”, says Máté Stibrányi PhD, an archaeologist with Munifex Ltd.

Within a single day, we can now quickly and accurately explore such sites to collect dense and high-resolution information of what lies below. More importantly, this cutting-edge approach allows us to produce spectacular images of the remnants of the hidden foundations and features below, without a single excavation!”

Besnyo Church Google Earth Overlay, GPR data
Besnyo Church ground penetrating radar data

With special thanks to Munifex Ltd., Hungary
Survey and data acquisition by László Nagy, Zsombor Klembala and
Máté Stibrányi PhD
Data processing and visualization using GPR-Slice by Zsombor Klembala

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