Aerial Drone Photogrammetry of Aboveground Mortuary Architecture in the Amazonian Andes

Author(s): Daniela Raillard Arias

Year: 2023


This is an abstract from the "Adventures in Spatial Archaeometry: A Survey of Recent High-Resolution Survey and Measurement Applications" session, at the 88th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

For centuries, Indigenous Andean communities known as the Chachapoya placed their ancestral dead in aboveground architecture across the landscape of the Amazonian Andes, in what is now northeastern Peru. The study of Chachapoya ancestral sites presents a series of ethical and practical challenges due to issues of cultural sensitivity, profuse looting, structural instability, site inaccessibility, tourism development, and the legacy of pseudoarchaeology in the region. Thus, I present a minimally invasive approach that combines local spatial knowledge with aerial drone photogrammetry to document, map, and study these sensitive and sacred places located in vertical environments. I discuss a methodology for conducting vertical flight paths to capture photographs of mortuary architecture built into limestone cliff faces. I then outline the process of photogrammetric modeling of drone photographs, developed through the SAROI workshop series. The resulting models enabled the identification of additional mortuary structures and can be further analyzed to reconstruct access patterns, building technologies and spatial relationships. This approach works toward providing an alternative to excavation that is attuned to the cultural and structural sensitivities of Chachapoya ancestral sites, where resulting models can be integrated into local management plans and heritage revitalization efforts.

Cite this Record

Aerial Drone Photogrammetry of Aboveground Mortuary Architecture in the Amazonian Andes. Daniela Raillard Arias. Presented at The 88th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. 2023 ( tDAR id: 473583)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 37531.0