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Rapid Survey, Salvage, and Mapping Using Drones in an Ancient Maya Landscape: New Settlement Revealed at the Crossroads of Saturday Creek, Belize

Author(s): Eleanor Harrison-Buck ; Mark Willis ; Chester Walker

Year: 2015

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Summary

Saturday Creek is a sizeable Maya site center with an elite residence, three large pyramids, and two ballcourts. While much of the site core is in bush, most of the surrounding area has been cleared for agriculture. While the clearing makes for good visibility, the hinterland settlement has been subject to extensive bulldozing, repeated plowing, and removal of stone over the years, obscuring the smaller mounds and making it difficult to discern them on the ground. In less than two days, we flew two different drones more than 7km2 around Saturday Creek. The drone imagery revealed hundreds of previously unrecorded mounds, particularly dense in the vicinity of a complex resembling an "E-Group" or Maya solar observatory. A systematic surface collection is planned for next season, but a cursory inspection of the mounds shows that many of these structures were continuously occupied with ceramics dating from Preclassic to Postclassic times, suggesting that Saturday Creek was a major focus of population aggregation throughout its long history. The drone results leave little doubt that this locale was a central node in the landscape, arguably because it marked an important crossroads between east-west and north-south trade and communication networks from Preclassic times onward.

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Cite this Record

Rapid Survey, Salvage, and Mapping Using Drones in an Ancient Maya Landscape: New Settlement Revealed at the Crossroads of Saturday Creek, Belize. Mark Willis, Eleanor Harrison-Buck, Chester Walker. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395026)


Keywords

General
Belize Maya UAV

Geographic Keywords
Central America


Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America