Thank you Martin, superb example of how a dry statistical survey can actually say some pretty interesting things about otherwise-nebulous subjects like the religious attitudes of past cultures.
You speak of the "6th century fervour against the Migration Period elite's monuments" as though this is a well-known thing -- what a fascinating subject. Where does this come from, and where can I read more about it?
It ain't science if there ain't no stats.
Regarding the vandalism that the Migration Period's elite graves and inscribed steles met with after the period's end, there isn't a huge amount to read since the source material is empty graves and small pieces of broken stones. But check out these papers with refs:
I read about new biosensors using carbon nanotubes (in Science late January). Maybe -if the budgets permit such purchases- you might one day map the molecular traces that were leeched out from the grave contents and seeped into the ground, and extract useful information.
(Off-topic) Have you seen Greg Laden's blog lately? Some scary photos of the track left behind by a big-ass tornado. You can actually see the damage from space: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2013/02/21/amazing-scar-left-by-torna… A millennium ago, this would have been a sign that the gods want more sacrifices. Unusual weather events = more human bones at cult places?
I'd like sensors like those! Chemicals diffuse quickly into the medium, but maybe you would be able to say stuff like "this is where a piece of pork decayed and here is where a bunch of human scalps lay".
Sadly I believe people will slaughter each other ritually regardless of the weather.
(OT) Paleolithic marketing: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2896
SMBC rocks! And possibly bronzes and irons, too.