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A 3D Landscape Analysis of Stelae Visibility at Copan, Honduras

Author(s): Michael Auer ; Heather Richards-Rissetto ; Nicolas Billen ; Jennifer von Schwerin

Year: 2015

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Summary

From the early 5th to early 9th centuries, a dynasty of sixteen kings ruled at the ancient Maya site of Copan, Honduras. In the mid-7thth century, Chan Imix K'awiil or Ruler 12, is believed to be the first of Copan’s rulers to erect stelae outside the city’s main civic-ceremonial group. Why did he do this? Did these stelae exist as solar markers? Did they serve as territorial markers? Or, were they part of a communication system? Scholars have set forth these and other hypotheses, to explain the purpose of the valley stelae. In this paper, we use traditional Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the MayaArch3D WebGIS to perform visibility studies using GNSS GPS data of the stelae and terrain modeled from airborne LiDAR data. We then evaluate our results using additional archaeological and iconographic data in relation to existing hypotheses and explore new potential interpretations for the placement of these stelae in the Copan Valley.

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A 3D Landscape Analysis of Stelae Visibility at Copan, Honduras. Heather Richards-Rissetto, Michael Auer, Jennifer von Schwerin, Nicolas Billen. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396904)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Mesoamerica


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

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