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TOPIC: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures

Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 2 months ago #11596

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Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures at El Tajin archaeological zone
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The use of this vanguard technology allowed the location of the housing building. Photo: Guadalupe Zetina-INAH.

Translated by Cristina Perez Ayala


MEXICO CITY.- Three ball fields, a couple of edifications denominated “balconies”, and a housing building of more than a thousand years old, where located in the Archaeological Zone of El Tajin, in Veracruz, by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

Ph.D Guadalupe Zetina Gutierrez, investigator in the Archaeological Zone of El Tajin, allowed some of the project’s advances to be revealed. These are part of the Management Plan of the Archaeological Zone. She detailed that by locating the three ball fields the number of structures similar to these in El Tajin ascends to 20. “All the ball games that can be found in the site are different in dimensions and characteristics and, in the case of the three new fields, we can determine details with a precision of up to 5 centimeters [1.96 inches], thanks to a technology called LiDar, a laser scanner with which they developed a digital model of the Geographic Information System”.

Also, Zetina Gutierrez detailed that the two unknown structures, called “balconies”, consist of platforms of approximately 10 by 15 meters at the base and 10 to 12 meters high, located at the high parts of an ancient city where they had a panoramic view of the site.

“They are found in high places, in strategic points north of the archaeological zone, an area that had not been explored, so these are structures that had not been detected before, which is something new”.

The archaeologist also added that the use of this vanguard technology, which also allowed the location of the housing building, located at the occidental nuclei of El Tajn, to be found. “These architectural spaces show us that the great investment in time, work and materials must have been because these were the residences of a large family”.

Archaeologists also used thermal cameras by which they could identify fissures and structural damage in the pre Hispanic monuments. The report used by this camera revealed that there are no important damages in this site. “We took 60 thousand thermographic images and it was beneficial to learn that no important damage had been done to the principal structures of the archaeological zone”.

The advantages in the use of these instruments for archaeological investigation, is that they allow the detection of vestiges in areas where access is difficult. Also it helps obtain maps in 3D with high precision. This facilitates the registry of monuments. “This technology also helps us visualize satellite and digital images in layers of information, which can be mounted and dismounted, make comparisons, and know the precise location of the structures and their characteristics”.

Also, “this vanguard technology allows us to do a ten-year work in just a few”, detailed the archaeologist. She added that the use of said devices was done with the support of Mexican Petroleum (PEMEX), through the efforts of Patricia Castillo, director of the Archaeological Zone of El Tajin.

Guadalupe Zetine said that the new ball games, balconies and housing area, where found during 2012, after archaeologists, in 2011, where dedicated to make a field registry of the area. “Last year we constructed a geographic information system (SIG) to store all the recently obtained data and to make sense of it. Also, they created layers of information, all of this was stored on the platform and then, they started to work on the architectonic structures”.

Courtesy; Art Daily
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“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 1 month ago #11610

  • WhiteFeather
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B) Tommy, I guess the next step would be to declare areas "archaeologically sensitive" and protected from exploration by anyone other than licensed archaeologists. That would keep anyone from searching anywhere they don't want you hunting. The same technology can be used underwater to keep treasure hunters, detectorists and hobbiests away from searching anywhere they deem "sensitive archaeological zones". That could cover any beach, cove, river, field, forrest, desert, mountain or shipwreck. It seems to me that anywhere that people have lived in the past could become off limits to every single hobbiest or amature hunter or detectorist. "Decared Sensitive Archaeological Zone" is going to be the battle cry of every archaeologist or university involved in the field of historic knowledge on the planet. Beware Tommy, there may be an investigation of the areas you are working. One satillite evaluation that shows you are on the right track or on the verge of a great discovery could be used to shut you down. :S
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Re: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 1 month ago #11612

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I was reading this thinking what an excellent new technology. I recall watching something about a tomb in Egypt which was damaged when a generator truck was parked over it used on another dig. This technology could avert that situation.

Then I read White Feather's post and thought another excellent point. Our world is shrinking fast.

Any meeting of the minds requires a huge amount of trust between sides and niether side has it.
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Re: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 1 month ago #11613

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Morning White Feather, what you say is very true. However, that sword swings both ways :ohmy:

I am not a paranoid person by nature, but living and working down here in Central America I have become a very cautious treasure hunter to be sure. Not necessarily because of the many archaeologists that I have encountered along the way. Most of them are like minded folks who share the same passion for the history of the Maya that I do.

What always concerns me the most down here are the chance encounters with the run of the mill criminal element, the looters and the occasional group of narco traffickers that I have encountered on the jungle trail, but that's a story for another time.

First off, the LiDar system is an aircraft mounted system that is very expensive to operate, so I seriously doubt any archaeologists would be able to afford to contract this system to scan locations that I am working. For security reasons only a small group of trusted individuals know my objective and approximate whereabouts at any time.

As I said, that sword can swing both ways and here are a couple of recent examples. Those of you that actively follow my posts will remember a post I made of locating the Lost City of Samabaj. This is a location that is not well known, and it's location has been a closely guarded secret. However, with what little information is out there and with some research I was able to pin point the exact location of the sunken city.

Last Summer when we were exploring over in Honduras, the good folks from the University of Houston just happened to also be in Honduras testing the new LiDAR system. They published an article in the Honduras Weekly announcing University of Houston Uses LiDAR to Unveil Archaeological Ruins. They caught all kinds of hell from the elite establishment types for this article. So before information was pulled from the public domain I was able to download a series of images and after many hours and days of research on Google Earth I was able to pin point what I believe to be the location of the ruins of the legendary lost city known as Ciudad Blanca. I have not yet been able to verify this discovery with boots on the ground, but it is on my list of things to do.
“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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Re: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 1 month ago #11616

  • JudyH
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Some very good points by all. ;)

Tommy, you had the same idea that I did, great minds think alike, lol. Our good 'friends' in Texas have proven to be a veritable fount of information. B)

Russ, you are very right to worry about governments declaring something a "sensitive archaeological site" based entirely on LIDAR survey information. It seems ludicrous by any stretch of the imagination to base a decision like that on survey maps alone...without any boots on the ground confirmation. But it's a real possibility that may change everything.

Imaginos....you are absolutely right. Somehow there has to be a meeting of the minds...between the archaeological community who does not have the backing/funding to research and investigate these sites, and our treasure hunting brethren who can and do. Research, recovery and preservation have a cost....which could easily be offset by sharing the proceeds (a Win-Win situation in my opinion). As many have said before....how many pottery shards and arrowheads do the museums and cultural heritage facilities need to preserve history? There has to be a happy medium somewhere. :( :S
Last Edit: 7 years 1 month ago by JudyH.
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Re: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 1 month ago #11637

  • Imaginos
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Wreckdiver,

I will concede that the technology at present is very expensive to use, but then so were cell phones and PCs not so long ago. If the data can be marketed someone will start mapping the world, especially if it can be done with a satellite. Take Google Earth for example, once the cost would have been astronomical and now it's a tool any child can invoke and use. Each incarnation has gotten better and clearer views until most of the world has gotten uncomfortable with any better resolution. I wouldn't mind it though as I am sure most here would agree the benefit outweighs the intrusion. :)

Judy,

I'm with you, when there is no real justifiable data from an artifact then it's use to science is minimal beyond a statistic.

Bridging the gap is a sticky wicket..
I'm reminded of the story where the center doing research on the Dead Sea scrolls offered to buy scraps of ancient parchment. The thought was that any rotted bit may still contain some data that otherwise would be discarded or destroyed because it wasn't valuable to museums.
The locals upon realizing that price was set by size, began tearing off bits of large scrolls to sell and saving the rest as a kind of bank account for later. :blink:

As I used to hear in the military 100 atta-boys are wiped out by 1 aw-s**t :laugh:
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Re: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 1 month ago #11643

  • JudyH
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:laugh: I see your point, lol. Sticky problem for sure.

There has to be some sort of protocol, but as long as the archaeological community continues to view ALL treasure hunters (no matter their modus operandi) as looters, thieves and vandals...how can we get to the drawing board? Why does the word "Profit" stick in their craw so badly?

Tommy is a tireless crusader in this "war" and has made many, many valid points in his dissertations regarding this subject....I bow to his superior rhetoric (mainly as I have no tact :unsure:). But I am reminded of something from my own area of research that closely resembles this same inequitable situation. Natural Medicine vs. Big Pharma. As long as the naturopath gives away his knowledge they are inconsequential ...unnoticed in the scheme of things. The minute they charge for their service they are labeled "Snake Oil Salesmen" and "Dangerous" entities. Sure...there are bad apples in both situations...there are real frauds in naturopathy as well as real looters and vandals in treasure hunting. Then again, there are many, many who know their business. Who loses when those that do...can't...because of the misinformation spread about them? Not exactly the same deal....but on a par, don't you think?

Upshot of it is...everyone loses when two opposing groups can't work out an agreement beneficial to both of them. Now I'll get off my soapbox for the day. :P
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Re: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 1 month ago #11667

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Thats a pretty good anaolgy I think Judy, although 2 sides of the coin in a way. Big pharma doesn't want competition as they claim they need all that high revenue for research. They would have to cut prices and lose profit. I won't go into the fact they seem to ignore certain cheap (depending) herbal remedies that seem to work. :dry:

Museums and science institutes operate on a budget so they don't want the competition of buying in an open market since they can't compete with the finances of private buyers.

Perhaps if there was a mandatory display clause or shared data clause so that any institution could access artifacts or site maps. Of course that would require record keeping etc...

Imagine how cool it would be if all data was in the public domain. There are a lot of smart folks out there without a piece of paper that says so who would likely find some amazing things.

We can dream right? :)
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Re: Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures 7 years 1 month ago #11669

  • JudyH
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You betcha! ;)
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