Dr. John Kantner, University of North Florida

Lobo Mesa Archaeological Project

Regional Analysis

A Geographic Information System (GIS) spatial database of almost 2,000 sites in the LMAP area is being used to evaluate changing levels of clustering and site size differences that might indicate increasing competition and socioeconomic differentiation. A related LMAP project is focused on determining the function of the prehistoric roads built by the Puebloan people in the 11th century A.D. The GIS generates potential routes that the roads might have taken, given certain proposed functions, and then these "cost-paths" are compared with the actual prehistoric roads. The results suggest that roads were built not for economic reasons, but instead served cosmological functions (see GIS link to left for more information).

Viewshed for Kin Ya'a tower kiva

Ron Hobgood, a former graduate student at Georgia State University, and Dr. Kantner also examined the mysterious "tower kivas" that rise a few stories above some of the largest structures in the Chacoan area. Many scholars have developed hypotheses as to the function of these architectural features; the idea that they served region-wide communication has been especially popular among Southwestern archaeologists. However, viewshed analysis in GIS revealed that these towers could not have been used for this purpose, and in fact their elevated positions provided little long-distance views. Instead, the towers enhance the structure's visibility within the community, much like a church steeple. The image above shows this for the tower kiva at Kin Ya'a: the green shading represents the additional area viewable from the top of the tower kiva, beyond the blue area visible from ground level.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0715996. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.