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Applying Digital Technologies to Older Sets of Data: A Study of the Spatio-Temporal Distribution, Design and Function of the Carved Stone Altars at Copán

Author(s): Laura Stelson

Year: 2015

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Summary

The term "altar" is a western concept which has been used in the study of the ancient Maya to describe a plethora of carved stone artifacts, ranging from small pedestals, to carved boulders, to three-dimensional, multi-component, carved sculptures. In many cases, it seems unlikely that the only purpose of these altars was to serve as a place to deposit sacrifices. After spending two field seasons cataloguing the carved stone altars at Copán, Honduras, the chronological trends in shape and style became readily apparent amongst the 78+ examples at the site, especially amongst the pieces dating to the Late Classic period. My research goal is to answer questions such as whether the changes in the form and style of these altars across time and space might reflect a change in their function, or if these differences in style correlate to the positioning of certain altar types in certain locations such as in front of a stela or inside of a structure. The MayaArch3D geo-spatial analysis tool, which allows complexly structured data to be queried based on both geographical and chronological parameters, allows me to apply these new questions, and a new methodological approach to a long-existing set of data.

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Applying Digital Technologies to Older Sets of Data: A Study of the Spatio-Temporal Distribution, Design and Function of the Carved Stone Altars at Copán. Laura Stelson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396909)


Keywords

General
Altar Copán Database

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