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Using Lidar to Locate and Classify Ancient Maya Water Storage Features at Yaxnohcah, Campeche, Mexico

Author(s): Christopher Carr ; Jeffrey Brewer ; Nicholas Dunning ; Kathryn Reese-Taylor ; Armando Anaya Hernández

Year: 2017

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Airborne lidar presents a valuable tool to investigate water management in a water-scarce region of the Maya lowlands. We analyze 25 sq-km of lidar elevation data for the ancient Maya site of Yaxnohcah in Campeche, Mexico. Using the hydrologic tools in the GIS software ArcMap we identified hundreds of closed depressions (many extremely small). These features may have a natural origin (e.g. a sink hole) or may be anthropogenic (e.g. from quarrying), or may be data artifacts. We used a series of filters to narrow the list of closed depressions to those which have the potential to be used for water storage. We examined many of these features on the ground and excavated several, with the archaeological data indicating their origins during the Middle Preclassic period (900 – 400 BC). As the lidar also shows residential and monumental structures, we examine the spatial relationships between structures and water storage features (including watershed area, drainage lines, and water storage capacity).

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Using Lidar to Locate and Classify Ancient Maya Water Storage Features at Yaxnohcah, Campeche, Mexico. Christopher Carr, Jeffrey Brewer, Nicholas Dunning, Kathryn Reese-Taylor, Armando Anaya Hernández. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431221)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14678

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