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Unearthing Ancient Agriculture: Geospatial Revelations in Chaco Canyon

Wetherbee Bryan Dorshow (University of New Mexico) intersects archaeology and technology with a predictive geospatial approach to mapping ancient agricultural landscapes in Chaco Canyon.

My notes on the presentation “Modeling Agricultural Potential in the Chaco Core During the Bonito Phase: A Predictive Geospatial Approach” by Wetherbee Bryan Dorshow (University of New Mexico).

Geospatial modeling of ancient landscapes has the potential to assist archaeologists in the predictive modeling realm.

This predictive scientific research builds a series of layers based on different criteria of a landscape.

A composite map shows the good areas and bad areas for whatever the archaeologist is searching for.

During the Bonito Phase (ca 850-1150 CE), the great house community in Chaco Canyon may have been at the center of a regional network of agricultural communities dispersed over much of the San Juan Basin and Colorado Plateau.

Dorshow is creating a farming model that highlights probable agricultural zones in 10m by 10m pixels.

As of the lecture, 60% of the land studied in the Chaco Canyon region is arable.

Great houses are located on the margins of cachement boundaries and sites are concentrated on moderate arable land.

I’m looking forward to an update about the 3D models that will run water through different zones in order to see how flooding could have affected different areas.

I am also hopeful that someday all the LiDAR imagery taken of Chaco Canyon will be compiled into a public database.

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