Volcanos, Imagery, and Footpaths: Research in Costa Rica

Author(s): Errin Weller

Year: 2016


Over multiple field seasons, Dr. Payson Sheets has led the Proyecto Prehistorico Arenal in the Northwest corner of Costa Rica. A landscape characterized by repeated volcanic eruptions has resulted in the preservation of prehistoric footpaths. Dr. Sheets established a methodology combining satellite imagery and archaeology that could differentiate between erosional, historic, and prehistoric footpath features. This paper will focus on this methodology and Dr. Sheets’ contribution to remote sensing methodology. I will focus on the two seasons I joined Dr. Sheets in 2002 and 2003. To summarize, the ash layers provide footpath chronology, the stratigraphic profiles reveal a characteristic broad U-shape resulting from use, and the location of the anomaly on a high ridge or in association with cultural features provide evidence of a prehistoric footpath. The successful location of footpaths contributes significantly to an archaeological understanding of how humans were moving across the landscape and the reasons for doing so.

Cite this Record

Volcanos, Imagery, and Footpaths: Research in Costa Rica. Errin Weller. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403579)


Spatial Coverage

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