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Technology helps Mexican archaeologists find new structures at El Tajin archaeological zone
The use of this vanguard technology allowed the location of the housing building. Photo: Guadalupe Zetina-INAH.

Translated by Cristina Perez Ayala

MEXICO CITY.- Three ball fields, a couple of edifications denominated “balconies”, and a housing building of more than a thousand years old, where located in the Archaeological Zone of El Tajin, in Veracruz, by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

Ph.D Guadalupe Zetina Gutierrez, investigator in the Archaeological Zone of El Tajin, allowed some of the project’s advances to be revealed. These are part of the Management Plan of the Archaeological Zone. She detailed that by locating the three ball fields the number of structures similar to these in El Tajin ascends to 20. “All the ball games that can be found in the site are different in dimensions and characteristics and, in the case of the three new fields, we can determine details with a precision of up to 5 centimeters [1.96 inches], thanks to a technology called LiDar, a laser scanner with which they developed a digital model of the Geographic Information System”.

Also, Zetina Gutierrez detailed that the two unknown structures, called “balconies”, consist of platforms of approximately 10 by 15 meters at the base and 10 to 12 meters high, located at the high parts of an ancient city where they had a panoramic view of the site.

“They are found in high places, in strategic points north of the archaeological zone, an area that had not been explored, so these are structures that had not been detected before, which is something new”.

The archaeologist also added that the use of this vanguard technology, which also allowed the location of the housing building, located at the occidental nuclei of El Tajn, to be found. “These architectural spaces show us that the great investment in time, work and materials must have been because these were the residences of a large family”.

Archaeologists also used thermal cameras by which they could identify fissures and structural damage in the pre Hispanic monuments. The report used by this camera revealed that there are no important damages in this site. “We took 60 thousand thermographic images and it was beneficial to learn that no important damage had been done to the principal structures of the archaeological zone”.

The advantages in the use of these instruments for archaeological investigation, is that they allow the detection of vestiges in areas where access is difficult. Also it helps obtain maps in 3D with high precision. This facilitates the registry of monuments. “This technology also helps us visualize satellite and digital images in layers of information, which can be mounted and dismounted, make comparisons, and know the precise location of the structures and their characteristics”.

Also, “this vanguard technology allows us to do a ten-year work in just a few”, detailed the archaeologist. She added that the use of said devices was done with the support of Mexican Petroleum (PEMEX), through the efforts of Patricia Castillo, director of the Archaeological Zone of El Tajin.

Guadalupe Zetine said that the new ball games, balconies and housing area, where found during 2012, after archaeologists, in 2011, where dedicated to make a field registry of the area. “Last year we constructed a geographic information system (SIG) to store all the recently obtained data and to make sense of it. Also, they created layers of information, all of this was stored on the platform and then, they started to work on the architectonic structures”.

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