Faculty Research at Morehead State University


High-Density LiDAR Mapping of the Ancient City of Mayapán

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A 2013 survey of a 40 square kilometer area surrounding Mayapán, Yucatan, Mexico used high-density LiDAR data to map pre-hispanic architecture and related natural features. Most of the area is covered by low canopy dense forest vegetation over karstic hilly terrain that impedes full coverage archaeological survey. We used LiDAR at 40 laser points per square meter to generate a bare earth digital elevation model (DEM). Results were evaluated with comparisons to previously mapped areas and with traditional archaeological survey methods for 38 settlement clusters outside of the city wall. Ground checking employed full coverage survey of selected 500 m grid squares, as well as documentation of the chronology and detail of new public and domestic settlement features and cenotes. Results identify the full extent of continued, contemporary Postclassic settlement (A.D. 1150–1450) outside of the city wall to at least 500 meters to the east, north, and west. New data also reveal an extensive modified landscape of terraformed residential hills, rejolladas, and dense settlement dating from Preclassic through Classic Periods. The LiDAR data also allow for the identification of rooms, benches, and stone property walls and lanes within the city.