Assessing Newly Discovered Small-Scale Hydrologic Infrastructure Near El Zotz, Guatemala

Authors: J. Dennis Baldwin*, University of Texas at Austin, Thomas Garrison, University of Texas at Austin, Timothy Beach, University of Texas at Austin, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, University of Texas at Austin
Topics: Land Use, Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Lidar, Maya, Archaeology, Human-Landscape Interactions
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 revolution in remote sensing of the Maya area led by recent advancements in the use of lidar has led to the discovery of a multitude of new infrastructural features that begin to reveal the true extent, scale, and complexity of ancient Maya investments in landesque capital. While large-scale investments in hydrologic infrastructure in the ancient urban core areas of El Zotz and nearby Bejucal were known and have been subject to a great deal of archaeological and geoarchaeological investigation. Unknown were subtle, small-scale, examples of hydrologic infrastructure in peripheral areas of the region outside of the aforementioned urban core areas. These were discovered, and herein examined, using lidar data generated by the Pacunam Lidar Initiative (PLI). Examples of features discovered through the analysis of lidar data include potential dams, reservoirs, and canals. These manifestations of landesque capital are furthermore located in the upland areas of a landscape that contains lowland agricultural wetland complexes as well. Building on previous scholarship on Maya hydrologic infrastructure, this paper examines the implication of these features on the local environment and subsistence landscape at large. Given their differing positions in the socio-political landscape, this paper explores the potential significance of such vernacular features on the cultural and political landscape of the ancient Maya in comparison to their counterparts in more central areas of the ancient political landscape. This paper lays the groundwork for future archaeological investigations in the El Zotz region projected for the coming year.

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