Ancient Maya Regional Settlement and Inter-Site Analysis: The 2013 West-Central Belize LiDAR Survey




Chase, Arlen F.
Chase, Diane Z.
Awe, Jaime J.
Weishampel, John F.
Iannone, Gyles
Moyes, Holley
Yaeger, Jason
Brown, M. Kathryn
Shrestha, Ramesh L.
Carter, William E.

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During April and May 2013, a total of 1057 km2 of LiDAR was flown by NCALM for a consortium of archaeologists working in West-central Belize, making this the largest surveyed area within the Mayan lowlands. Encompassing the Belize Valley and the Vaca Plateau, West-central Belize is one of the most actively researched parts of the Maya lowlands; however, until this effort, no comprehensive survey connecting all settlement had been conducted. Archaeological projects have investigated at least 18 different sites within this region. Thus, a large body of archaeological research provides both the temporal and spatial parameters for the varied ancient Maya centers that once occupied this area; importantly, these data can be used to help interpret the collected LiDAR data. The goal of the 2013 LiDAR campaign was to gain information on the distribution of ancient Maya settlement and sites on the landscape and, particularly, to determine how the landscape was used between known centers. The data that were acquired through the 2013 LiDAR campaign have significance for interpreting both the composition and limits of ancient Maya political units. This paper presents the initial results of these new data and suggests a developmental model for ancient Maya polities.



LiDAR, Maya archaeology, landscape archaeology, settlement patterns


Remote Sensing 6 (9): 8671-8695 (2014)