Monitoring cultural landscapes from space

Evaluating archaeological sites in the Basin of Mexico using very high resolution satellite imagery

Christopher Morehart, John K. Millhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Satellite data allow archaeologists to not only identify archaeological sites and features but to monitor them in relation to contemporary landscape changes. This article pursues this goal by assessing the contemporary conditions of archaeological sites originally recorded over 40 years ago in the northern Basin of Mexico. We examine archaeological site locations and 1970s land-use data recorded by surveyors against contemporary land-use information observable in very high resolution (VHR) GeoEye-1 multi-spectral satellite imagery. Our results demonstrate continuity in the types of land classes within which sites existed during the 1970s and today, but they also show significant changes with potentially negative impacts on the preservation of cultural resources. Most sites in agro-pastoral lands over 40 years ago remain in agro-pastoral land. However, the expansion of modern settlements due to population growth and changing property laws has encroached on archaeological sites. Technological intensification of agricultural practices (i.e., tractors) can impact site preservation even if the landuse category remained unchanged. This article also discusses the potential impact that different settlement types, depositional environments, and looting can have on cultural resources and outlines key areas of future research requiring the integration of remote sensing and archaeological fieldwork.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-376
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume10
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Fingerprint

cultural landscape
Mexico
monitoring
land use
resources
population growth
continuity
Law
Satellite Imagery
Cultural Landscape
Monitoring
Archaeological Sites
Land Use
1970s
Resources

Keywords

  • Landscape archaeology
  • Mesoamerica
  • Mexico
  • Remote sensing
  • Satellite data
  • Site monitoring
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology

Cite this

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