Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Special Topics in Archaeology Student Spotlight!

GIS4990 Special Topics in Archaeology, Dr. Scott Palumbo

Identifying Maya Pyramids

Lab description - The goal of this module was to classify satellite imagery to detect Maya sites with pyramids. Over the past couple of weeks, students did this by creating a number of images to determine what worked best (e.g. False Color, NDVI, etc.).

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Edit a raster image to display select information
  • Export raster data to .kml or .kmz formats
  • View and share this data in Google Earth
  • Compare our Maya perspective to Southeast Asia (undergrads)
  • Begin a comparative analysis in Southeast Asia (grads)


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Identifying Maya Pyramids assignment:

Valerie Woelfel 

About Valerie: Valerie is currently an Archaeological Illustrator and has been for almost 30 years!  While pursuing a BA in studio art, she decided to take a few summer archaeological courses, and thus stumbled across the career path she is still on.  This career has successfully combined her love for art, history, archaeology, and travel.  After working on several digs as an archaeological illustrator, she feels GIS is the next logical step to add to her job skills and expand her employment opportunities!  Like many of us involved with field research she is not in this field for the money, but rather the memories and experiences gained.  Way to kick off our Archaeology spotlights this semester Valerie!

What we like: The neat thing about what Val did was to extend these skills from the Guatemalan rainforest to the jungles of Cambodia. Here she was able to use some of the same techniques to identify likely areas containing stone architecture in a region of extensive canopy. Such classification efforts are particularly important in parts of Cambodia because many relict landmines are left from the Khmer Rouge era and ground truthing is not always practical to do. In addition, his blog is fairly thorough. You can also see some of her Maya results.

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