What is Paranormal Archaeological Survey?

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Here on the Paranormal Archaeology blog, we have toyed with the idea of doing a paranormal archaeological survey. Using archaeological methods to look over the paranormality of sites or analyze artifacts that are perceived as being haunted. But trying to put together what that might look like in real life, has been a bit difficult. There aren’t a lot of examples to look at in the professional academic world as far as how to paranormally investigate something archaeologically. We could hold seances; we could use dowsing; we could fall back on psychic mediums to perform psychic archaeology for us. None of those things really will achieve what we are trying to do here. Which is to examine how the perception of something being haunted affects human interaction with it.

Two of the things I’ve been researching is the idea of the good old-fashioned ghost hunt that has become so popular of late with the various Ghost Hunters shows on television and YouTube. The other idea that’s been influencing my thought process is the work of John Sabol over at CASPER, his paranormal archaeological research group.

Sabol has some interesting ideas about how to conduct a paranormal investigation at haunted sites. He also has some fascinating insights about what makes a site haunted, how that haunted perception affects people around the site, and in general critiques about how archaeology and excavation influence the results and data collected from various sites. The majority of his writing is available on his Academia.EDU page. I can’t 100% say for sure that Sabol believes in ghosts or that a site is haunted. However, going off of his actions and his own research, I’m willing to think that he does? If he ever reads this and wishes to correct me, I would appreciate it, because I am very confused.

Whether or not Sabol believes in ghosts or not, his critiques of archaeology are very poignant, and his observations on sites, site formation, site use, and archaeological perception of excavation are very thought-provoking. I will say if you go attempt to read Sabol’s writings, be prepared for extremely jargon-heavy writing that can be disconnected at times. Though I’m sure, people can say that about my blogs.

Regardless, between the methods of now “traditional” ghost hunting using data collection devices, and Sabol’s recommendations for performative excavations, I have started to form ideas of how I would like to attempt a paranormal survey or ghost excavation.

Technology has advanced a lot. I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed, but these things we call cell phones are really just computers. And some of them are very powerful computers at that. My phone, for example, has the ability to record pretty much any data I would require on survey. It also has the ability to store data and access sites and apps that could potentially analyze said data for me. The only thing my phone really can’t do is dig my unit for me. Give it time, I’m sure.

That being said, I have no intention of doing an invasive excavation. There is no need to go into any site, haunted or otherwise, with intentions of disturbing the ground in any way. We also have no need to collect artifacts from the site and take them back to a lab location. It is my belief that with the technology offered inside of my cell phone and my handy dandy GoPro and my laptop, I am more than capable of recording all data necessary in the field.

Which makes this an exciting proposition. Because it may also mean the paranormal survey could be very cost-effective in that I already own everything I need and probably don’t need to buy into anything new. Good news, in my opinion.

So using archaeological methods and practice to design a noninvasive excavation of the paranormal site is my goal. Using the data collection of “traditional” ghost hunting as well as archaeological data recovery, I think, will yield some exciting results. Perhaps even attempting some of the performative excavation that Sabol suggests would be interesting as well.

What is all of this going to get me besides a fun time at a “haunted” location? Well archaeology is nothing without data, but does that mean that data can prove archaeologically that the site is haunted?


One of the things archaeology does when looking at the results of data collection at a site, keeping in mind that data can be anything from soil colors and soil depths all the way up to actual physical artifacts recovered, to the very weather at the time of survey, is putting all these things together to create a story of how the site was interacted with by humans. We have plenty of examples throughout archaeology to show us different ways that humans interact with different types of sites, including those that they consider sacred or holy.

Now, if you followed some of my past blog posts, you will know that there are lots of crossovers when it comes to human behavior towards sacred or holy sites, and sites that are considered haunted or supernatural. The reasons for certain practices might be different, but in the end, the behavioral patterns look roughly the same. Through comparison of haunted sites to known sacred and holy places, it might be possible to determine if the location might be perceived as haunted by the people interacting with it.

To put it simply, there are certain behaviors that people perform towards a site or object when that site or object is thought to be paranormal. I want to know if we can see that archaeologically at modern sites.

Fortunately, living where I do, there are plenty of haunted places for me to go, some of them fairly famous in the ghost hunting community. This gives me an ideal data set to examine. At least in my opinion.

So then what do I do with this information once I’ve gathered it? Let’s say for argument’s sake that I can prove that a site is perceived as haunted simply through the archaeological assemblage of that site. I can now observe modern human interaction with that site. I can see how the perception of whether or not a site’s paranormal effects the people who interact with it, and to what degree. It is an argument of mine that the simple idea that a site might be paranormal, affects how everyone interacts with it whether or not they believe in the paranormal.

In the long run, a Paranormal Archaeological Survey truly has multiple parts, one part being the survey itself, and another part is how modern humans react to the site. There is also historical interaction with the site, and the reality of the history of the site compared to the paranormal history of the site. As I said, there are multiple pieces here.

I’m excited to fully flesh out the process of the paranormal survey. I want to have a working idea of what I plan to do before I just drop into any various site. I think people who own the site might be appreciative of that, also it would probably make my life easier in the long run.

That said, once I have a working idea, I plan to implement it. I’m looking forward to my first full paranormal archaeological survey in the near future, and I hope you are all looking forward to it as well.

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Hi! I’m an archaeologist who likes games, video games, gaming, horror, the supernatural, and debunking pseudoarchaeology. Check out my vids for more on the above topics, and toss us a coin if you like what I do.

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Published by ArchyFantasies

An active Archaeologist myself, I've gotten a bit tired of the use of bad science and archaeology to defend and "prove" made up claims. In this vein my videos should help others who are are not familiar with how Archaeology actually works understand the truth and see through the misleading lies of others

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