Accelerating the "Maddeningly Slow Work of Archaeology" in the Forested Maya Lowlands

Author(s): Francisco Estrada-Belli

Year: 2017


Investigations in the thickly forested Peten region is complicated by lack of roads, water, communications, visibility and other things we often take for granted even in archaeology. In most cases the time it takes for results of such field work to reach a general audience can be measured in years. Many of us have turned to technology to alleviate this situation but the gains can be less than what is expected. The advent of GPS handheld devices have been useful to locate sites (and ourselves) much more efficiently in those vast uncharted regions, but the kind of automated GPS mapping that is common in most developed countries remains unattainable to some. Satellite imagery has also provided a bonanza of opportunities for archaeologists thanks to the increase in resolution and accessibility of this technology, but not so in the forested Maya lowlands where multi-canopy forest can obscure even the largest of urban centers built by the Maya. LiDAR mapping has begun to alleviate many of these problems. Moreover, thanks to handheld devices, social media and virtualizations, our finds can now reach large audiences with incredible speed and with greater richness of content than ever before.

Cite this Record

Accelerating the "Maddeningly Slow Work of Archaeology" in the Forested Maya Lowlands. Francisco Estrada-Belli. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431195)


Gis Maya Remote Sensing

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14458