Beyond Visualization: Remote Sensing Applications in Prehispanic Settlements to Understand Ancient Anthropogenic Land Use and Occupation in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia
Archaeology is increasingly employing remote sensing techniques such as airborne lidar (light detection and ranging), terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), and photogrammetry in tropical environments where dense vegetation hinders to a great extent the ability to understand the scope of ancient landscape modification. These technologies have enabled archaeologists to develop sophisticated analyses that overturn traditional misconceptions of tropical ecologies and the human groups that have inhabited them in the long term. This article presents new data on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia that reveals the extent to which its ancient societies transformed this landscape, which is frequently thought of as pristine. By recursively integrating remote sensing and archaeology, this study contributes to interdisciplinary scholarship examining ancient land use and occupation in densely forested contexts.