Amerindian archaeological site DEM construction and analysis from UAV flights


The archaeological footprint of Caribbean pre-Columbian settlements is often subtle; limited to surface scatter of shell, lithic and ceramic material. In the northern Dominican Republic, slight differences in topography have been identified as additional evidence for Amerindian habitation sites.

Circular platforms from 7 to 10 meters in diameter, were dug into the hill slope and levelled to form the base of round houses, as shown in recent excavations by the Nexus1492 project. The terraced settlements on the flanks of hills provided inter-visibility between villages, and the opportunity to observe the sea, but were located away from the main food source, fish and molluscs, and even fresh water.

In combination with terrestrial surveys, aerial mapping of the site complements our understanding of configuration and extent of this settlement type in its environment. Improved usability and price drop of unmanned aerial vehicles and easy use of photogrammetric software provides the opportunity to record archaeological features.

Produced from vertical and oblique aerial photos, the created DEMs highlight the small topographic changes even beneath low canopy. The result provides the possibility to extract contours, shading, small topography changes, and its implementation in a GIS environment and coarser DEMs for regional aspect analysis.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Amerindian archaeological site DEM construction and analysis from UAV flights. Till Sonnemann, Menno Hoogland, Corinne L. Hofman, Eduardo Herrera Malatesta, Jorge Ulloa Hung. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397007)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;