Enter the Void: A GIS Analysis of the Visibility of Empty Spaces at Copan, Honduras


The concept of visibility: what or who is visible and who can see what, provides archaeologists with information about power, ideology, and interaction. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) allow us to quantify the visibility of archaeological features in landscapes and 3D visualizations and gives us a way to experience these past landscapes. In Maya archaeology, most visibility studies measure the visibility of monuments as a means to understand the role of architecture within ancient Maya society. In this paper, we reverse our approach—measuring the visibility of "empty" spaces at the ancient city of Copan in Honduras—in order to interpret the role they may have played in conveying messages and shaping daily life. Using GIS we identify "empty" spaces across the city and begin to interpret their potential significance. These spaces that appear "empty" today could have been agricultural fields, household gardens, or ritual stages, which each have different implications in terms of visibility. We focus particularly at "empty" spaces in San Lucas—a neighborhood overlooking Copan’s main civic-ceremonial complex.

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Cite this Record

Enter the Void: A GIS Analysis of the Visibility of Empty Spaces at Copan, Honduras. Justin King, Heather Richards-Rissetto, Kristin Landau. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397035)


Spatial Coverage

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