UAV LiDAR Mapping for Archaeological and Environmental Applications in Chiapas, Mexico

Authors: Whittaker Schroder*, University of Florida
Topics: Latin America, Drones, Remote Sensing
Keywords: LiDAR, Maya, Archaeology, UAV, urbanism, intensive agriculture
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 36
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The cultural landscape of southern Mesoamerica has been transformed since the origins of agriculture more than 5,000 years ago and later by the development of urbanism. The Maya practiced several forms of agricultural intensification in southern Mesoamerica, including wetland fields and terracing. Integrating several remote sensing datasets, including NASA GLiHT LiDAR and the University of Florida Gator Eye drone-mounted LiDAR system, we report on mapping and initial analysis from the region surrounding the confluence of the Upper Usumacinta and Lacantun Rivers in Chiapas, Mexico. We have mapped several portions of this archaeological landscape, including urban centers associated with the archaeological sites of Benemerito de las Americas, Primera Seccion and El Palma, as well as smaller settlements and agricultural fields. This paper will summarize point processing techniques, results, and ongoing research to interpret the relationship and chronology of settlements and agricultural intensification in this area, especially in relation to resilience theory and the adaptive cycles and dynamic political shifts that took place over several thousands of years. We will also discuss initial efforts toward community engagement with goals to develop a strong working relationship that will seek to identify overlapping areas of interest among researchers and community members. These efforts relate more broadly to questions of accessibility and sharing in the context of big data analysis. Furthermore, this paper will engage with themes relating to the transformation and sustainability of North American landscapes across time.

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