Maya Cultural Heritage Preservation
Archaeological tunneling is a standard excavation strategy in Mesoamerica. The ancient Maya built new structures atop older ones that were no longer deemed usable, whether for logistical or ideological reasons. This means that as archaeologists excavate horizontal tunnels into ancient Maya structures, they are essentially moving back in time. As earlier constructions are encountered, these tunnels may deviate in many directions in order to document architectural remains. The resultant excavations often become intricate labyrinths, extending dozens of meters.
Traditional forms of archaeological documentation, such as photographs, plan views, and profile drawings, are limited in their ability to convey the complexity of tunnel excavations. Terrestrial Lidar (light detection and ranging) and Structure from Motion (SFM) techniques are able to generate precise 3D models of tunnel excavations.
These digital artifacts are then distributed to museums and exhibits to increase awareness and study of Maya culture.
A longer description and current status of the project is on the Engineers for Exploration Project Website.