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A New Methodology for Geoglyph Research: The Drone and Satellite Imagery Survey of the Sihuas Valley, Peru

Author(s): Felipe Gonzalez-Macqueen ; Giles Spence-Morrow ; Peter Bikoulis ; Willy Yépez Álvarez ; Justin Jennings

Year: 2016

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Throughout the 20th century, archaeologists have used aerial photography to record and study geoglyphs and other large features. This method, however, has its limitations like expense, flying time, and image resolution. With the addition of satellite imagery and drone photography into the archaeological toolbox, we can now obtain higher resolution images of variable landscapes. We conducted a preliminary survey of a section of the Sihuas Valley, Peru, in order to better understand the landscape surrounding the Middle Horizon-Late Intermediate site of Quilcapampa (AD 600-1400). To identify and map geoglyphs and other anthropogenic features scattered across this area of desert pampa, we used a combination of satellite and drone imagery that were then integrated into a GIS setting. Initial satellite image reconnaissance allowed us to locate some of the most visible geoglyphs, providing target areas for subsequent field study using drone photography and pedestrian survey. The results of this preliminary survey showed that each drone pass revealed a significant amount of information neither visible solely by satellite imagery nor easily comprehensible by observers on the ground. While not an exhausting survey, this study demonstrates how a combined satellite/drone/pedestrian survey methodology can provide accurate, detailed imagery of past landscapes.

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A New Methodology for Geoglyph Research: The Drone and Satellite Imagery Survey of the Sihuas Valley, Peru. Felipe Gonzalez-Macqueen, Giles Spence-Morrow, Peter Bikoulis, Willy Yépez Álvarez, Justin Jennings. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405198)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

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