Tiwanaku, Bolivia


Geophysics and Geomatics at Tiwanaku

View north from atop Akapana 

In collaboration with the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology and the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab at the University Of Pennsylvania, a team from CAST has been involved in a multi-year project at the site of Tiwanaku. Situated high in the Bolivian Andes along a flat uprising of land referred to as the altiplano, the city of Tiwanaku was settled around from A.D. 500 – 950. The people of Tiwanaku constructed large mounds, platforms, and stone structures to form the core of their city whose influence stretched across the altiplano and into the Andes. Tiwanaku was recognized as a birthplace for the people of the Andes when the site was rediscovered by Incan conquests in the 1500's. In the summers of 2005 and 2006, geophysical fieldwork, photogrammetry, and archaeological laser scanning served to complement the traditional archaeological investigations that were being conducted at this UNESCO World Heritage site. Follow the links below (or from left panel) to explore these results.

Photogrammetry - Aerial photographs from 1972 and 1992 were used to create two separate digital elevation models (DEM). The 1972 photos allowed creation of a 0.5-meter resolution DEM of the monumental core area, and the 1992 photos were used to create a 1-meter DEM encompassing the entire site and surrounding landscape.

3D Laser Scanning - Two laser scanning systems were used to acquire high resolutin data for monumental structures, excavation areas, and artifacts.

Geophysics - Ground-penetrating radar, magnetometery, magnetic susceptibility, and electrical conductivity surveys were conducted in the monumental core area, revealing unexcavated building foundations, paved surfaces, water conduits, and revetments.

3D Data Integration - Results from the photogrammetry, laser scanning, and geophysical surveys were merged into one software environment that allows all these and other multi-scale, multi-temporal datasets to be integrated.

Selected Project Results


Results of these efforts were presented at the Technology and Archaeology Workshop on December 7, 2007; hosted by Dumbarton Oaks and organized in collaboration with CAST. 

The work was supported, in part, by two NSF grants:

BCS-0321286 Acquisition of a High Accuracy/Resolution Landscape and Structure Characterization System (HARLS-CS) for Anthropology, Archaeology, Architecture, Biology and Geosciences

Grant IIS-0431070 Computing and Retrieving 3D Archaeological Structures from Subsurface Surveying.



3D laser scanner

Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, University of Arkansas
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
copyright © 2007