Friday, June 20, 2014

Mapping the Palenque Pools

Archaeologists have long understood the importance of space in archaeological research. Beginning with John Lloyd Stephens and Fredrick Catherwood’s first foray into the jungles of Mesoamerica in the mid-nineteenth century, explorers and archaeologists alike have put a considerable amount of effort into mapping the monumental architecture of Maya sites. Specifically, archaeological inquiry has been focused on visualization, data management, and spatial analyses of monumental architecture as well as hinterland Maya households. Spatial data can include formal attributes concerning size and shape of archaeological features (e.g., artifacts, units, sites, regions, etc.), as well as their morphology. Consideration of spatial scales is also important for understanding how people built, modified, and lived in their environment in the past. Scale includes the extent and duration of archaeological phenomena: individual behavior taking place over short intervals of time in a small space; settlement processes including annual or seasonal rounds; and ecological processes that occur over large regions or long periods of time. The challenge for archaeologists is to infer processes from spatial patterning.

With the development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the 1990’s, many archaeologists began to incorporate GIS into their archaeological toolkit in recognition of its ability to organize complex sets of spatial data. Maya archaeologists have been especially active in mapping large site centers and their hinterland populations. Detailed mapping projects have been carried out at Palenque under the auspices of the Palenque Mapping Project (1998-2000), as well as at the sites of La Milpa and Copan, to name a few.

The Palenque Pool Project team has focused our efforts on detailed mapping of the Pictoa Group, adding features uncovered during the 2014 field season to the larger site map produced by the Palenque Mapping Project. We used a Leica Total station to record the location of architectural features at the site.

Project member Reed Goodman using the total station to map architecture in the Picota Group. 

During excavations this season, we have defined the extent of one of the pools in the group, located two drain features on the west side of the pool, and found a series of 9 steps that lead into the pool also on the west side. All of these features have been added to the map in order to understand the spatial layout of the pool. We have also mapped two additional pools to the north and south in more detail. As archaeological investigations continue in the Picota Group, new features can be added to the map in order to understand how the ancient Maya used the pools. 

Map of the Picota Group with location of pools.

Close up of pool investigated this year as part of the Paleque Pool Project.

No comments:

Post a Comment