3D Recording Las Cuevas Project

Fabrizio Galeazzi, 2016

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Dr Fabrizio Galeazzi
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Department of Archaeology
University of York
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Fabrizio Galeazzi (2016) 3D Recording Las Cuevas Project [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1036099


3D Recording Las Cuevas Project

The data collected during the '3D Recording Las Cuevas Project' come from the site of Las Cuevas, located in the Chiquibul Reserve in western Belize, Central America. The data collection was possible in the framework of the Las Cuevas Archaeological Reconnaissance (LCAR) Project directed by Professor Holley Moyes (University of California, Merced).

The only notable investigation conducted at Las Cuevas’s site, originally referred to as 'Awe Caves', was conducted in 1957 by Adrian Digby for the British Museum (1958), who wrote a brief article for the London News with a description of the site and the report of his excavation. In 1962, A. H. Anderson, Commissioner of the Belize Department of Archaeology, in a paper presented for the Americanists’ Congress mentioned a visit to Las Cuevas in 1938 when he produced a sketch map of the site.

Las Cuevas is an ancient Maya midsize site that dates to the later part of the 9th century AD. The aspect of the superficial site of Las Cuevas appears similar to many Late Classic Belizean sites, such as Baking Pot, Floral Park, Blackman Eddy or Minanha. The originality of this site when compared to the others resides in a large cave system located directly beneath Structure 1, and running beneath Plaza A. The cave presents a massive, cathedral-like entrance and an architecture that was probably modified for large public performances. Moreover inside the cave’s entrance is a cenote with a natural spring at its base.

The aim of LCAR is to combine evidence coming from the structures in the cave with those of the surface site to describe and clarify how the community used the different spaces of the site for ritual practices, and how those practices relate to the sociopolitical and natural environments.

During Summer 2011 and 2012, a 3D documentation campaign was conducted to compare laser scanning and image-based modelling techniques in extreme environmental and lighting conditions, characterised by very high humidity and variability in lighting. Different areas of the site were selected for the acquisition to compare the 3D documentation techniques in areas characterised by diverse environmental conditions and light exposures.

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