Gulf Coast Architectural Project
The Gulf lowlands present us with an archaeological gift. The Mexican geographic society, INEGI, has made available 5-m resolution LiDAR elevation data that is suitable for identifying mounded architecture in this largely deforested region. Even outside areas that have been surveyed archaeologically, this DEM gives us the ability to document almost all monumental architecture from central to southern Veracruz.
I have identified over 500 formal architectural complexes (or plaza groups) and counting for this region. These are nodes of political and ritual power that focus the authority of Classic elites at easily-identified points on the landscape. Additionally, the LiDAR data are also sufficient to identify thousands of residential mounds in the wetlands, which are situated within the agricultural fields in many cases.
This provides the enviable situation of being able to identify farmer households, nodes of authority, and agricultural fields all before stepping into the field! Currently I am identifying all formal architectural complexes for central and southern Veracruz and recording variables such as height of mounds; length, width, orientation, and configuration of plaza groups; length, width, and configuration of ball courts; and more… In the end, my students and I will search for patterned variability across space.