UAV LiDAR survey for archaeological documentation in Chiapas, Mexico

Whittaker Schroder, Timothy Murtha, Charles Golden, Andrew K. Scherer, Eben N. Broadbent, Angélica M. Almeyda Zambrano, Kelsey Herndon, Robert Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Airborne laser scanning has proven useful for rapid and extensive documentation of historic cultural landscapes after years of applications mapping natural landscapes and the built environment. The recent integration of unoccupied aerial vehicles (UAVs) with LiDAR systems is potentially transformative and offers complementary data for mapping targeted areas with high precision and systematic study of coupled natural and human systems. We report the results of data capture, analysis, and processing of UAV LiDAR data collected in the Maya Lowlands of Chiapas, Mexico in 2019 for a comparative landscape study. Six areas of archaeological settlement and long-term land-use reflecting a diversity of environments, land cover, and archaeological features were studied. These missions were characterized by areas that were variably forested, rugged, or flat, and included pre-Hispanic settlements and agrarian landscapes. Our study confirms that UAV LiDAR systems have great potential for broader application in high-precision archaeological mapping applications. We also conclude that these studies offer an important opportunity for multi-disciplinary collaboration. UAV LiDAR offers high-precision information that is not only useful for mapping archaeological features, but also provides critical information about long-term land use and landscape change in the context of archaeological resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4731
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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