Intensive Predictive Mapping of Surface Topography at Archaeological Sites in Peru

Intensive Predictive Mapping of Surface Topography at Archaeological Sites in Peru

Matthew Piscitelli, Johnathan Haas and Winifred Creamer



Limited resources often hamper archaeologists’ ability to accurately identify promising areas to excavate at large-scale sites. High-resolution maps can serve as predictive tools for locating subsurface architecture based on patterns in surface topography. This paper presents recent intensive mapping conducted at three Late Archaic (3,000-1,800 B. C. E.) archaeological sites in the Fortaleza Valley of Peru. Total station data were used to generate 3D surface maps in ArcGIS to delineate elevation changes in fine-grained detail. Distinctive features on the surface and microtopography reveal small-scale patterns that can inform our choices for targeted excavations. This procedure will provide a methodological tool for finding subsurface architecture at large-scale sites elsewhere.

Keywords: Mapping, methodology, Andean archaeology, Peru, GIS

Download Full Text – Piscitelli et al 2013


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