LiDAR and traditional archaeology at El Pilar

January 05, 2018

Talk by Dr. Sherman Horn, III:

LiDAR and traditional archaeology at El Pilar

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

7 pm, Lake Michigan Hall 249


Recent advances in remote-sensing technology – especially involving Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors – have revolutionized ancient Maya settlement studies. LiDAR images reveal structures ranging from massive temples to the humble remains of farmers’ houses, providing an immeasurably valuable tool for archaeologists attempting to build models of settlement in the forested landscape. LiDAR is so powerful, however, that some see it as a “magic wand” of sorts: simply wave it at the landscape and reveal the totality of ancient Maya settlement. To fully understand the complexity of Maya settlement patterns and landscape modification, archaeologists must move past their infatuation with LiDAR data and find ways to integrate the technique with established methods of archaeological survey and mapping. Ongoing research at El Pilar, a Maya city split by the contemporary Belize/Guatemala frontier, works toward this goal. I will present some findings of our 2017 survey to illustrate the power of LiDAR when properly combined with traditional archaeological methods.

Sponsored by the W. L. Coffinberry Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society.

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Page last modified January 5, 2018