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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

K. Lambers 1 *' 6 , M. Sauerbier“
J Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, ETH Hoenggerberg, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland - (lambers, msb)@geod.baug.ethz.ch
b Department of Prehistory, University of Zurich, Karl-Schmid-Str. 4, CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland
WG 8: Cultural Landscapes
KEY WORDS: 3D model, data model, object definition, cultural landscape, GIS, preservation, Nasca archaeology, spatial analysis
The famous Nasca lines and geoglyphs in the desert on the south coast of Peru are a constitutive part of the Nasca cultural landscape
of the Early Intermediate Period (approx. 200 BC - AD 600). Vast desert zones, largely uninhabited and unused in other epochs,
were marked and altered on a large scale according to the cultural concepts, needs and beliefs of the Nasca people. A study of the
geoglyphs thus is expected to provide important insights into Nasca culture. Such an investigation requires a regional approach
considering the geoglyphs and the landscape they are found in. Since 1997, in close cooperation between geodesists and
archaeologists from Switzerland, Germany and Peru, a working scheme was devised and realized that allows for the first time the
photogrammetric recording, 3D modeling, and GIS-based archaeological analysis of the geoglyphs of Palpa, in the northern part of
the Nasca region, where more than 1 500 geoglyphs cover the ridges and plateaus of the desert. The characteristics and the amount
of data obtained during our archaeological and photogrammetric work requires an efficient approach for data storage and analysis.
As an important step on the way to a GIS, in this paper we present the central part of our data model, designed in the Unified
Modeling Language (UML), that shows how we organize and integrate our geoglyph data following an object-oriented approach.
The concept of cultural landscapes has found widespread use in
archaeological research in recent years. Though there is no
common definition of the term (see recent review in Anschuetz
et al., 2001; cp. Rubenstein, 2002), the notion of a culturally
conceived space as distinguished from a natural environment
has proven useful to investigate and understand prehistoric
cultural change. The archaeological record in many regions of
the world clearly shows that a given environmental setting was
occupied, perceived, used and altered in many different ways
by its inhabitants through time. The Nasca region on the south
coast of Peru is an example for this (Silverman, Proulx, 2002).
Fig. 1 : Palpa in the Nasca region of southern Peru
The arid climatic conditions prevailing in the region seem to
confine human activity largely to the fertile river valleys that
transect the vast desert plain at the foot of the Andes (Fig. 1).
Such has been the situation at least since colonial times.
However, the results of recent archaeological surveys along
several tributaries of the Rio Grande de Nasca (Reindel et al.,
1999; Schreiber, 1999; Silverman, 2002) clearly show that
settlement patterns, use of resources, as well as symbolic
meaning imposed on the natural landscape changed
considerably through time. An especially interesting epoch in
this regard is the Early Intermediate Period (approx. 200 BC -
AD 600), during which the famous Nasca culture left its
distinctive imprint on the scenery. The ridges and plateaus in
the desert between the valleys were covered by thousands of
ground drawings: mostly lines and cleared areas, but also
biomorphic figures (Fig. 2). These features, commonly known
as Nasca lines or geoglyphs, are the result of a long-lasting
alteration process of the desert by the inhabitants of the valleys,
which resulted in a characteristic Nasca cultural landscape. In
order to understand the motives for this large scale effort, and
the concepts and criteria that guided its realization, a regional
approach for an archaeological investigation is required that
considers the geoglyphs, the environment in which they were
created, as well as the dwellings of their makers. Such is the
approach of an interdisciplinary research project initiated in
1997 by the Swiss-Liechtenstein Foundation for Archaeological
Research Abroad (SLFA, Zürich/Vaduz) that investigates the
northern part of the Nasca drainage around the modern town of
Palpa. While initial research focused on regional settlement
patterns and Nasca geoglyphs and settlements (Reindel et al.,
1999, 2003; Reindel, Isla 2001), current research comprises
investigations of the climatic history, landscape genesis, and
paleoecology of the Palpa region, as well as the application of
novel methods to detect and date archaeological features. From
the beginning of the project, an important task was the
development of an efficient large-scale method for the