Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 64 Number 1: 9-16 - April 2002

A publication of the National Speleological Society

The Use of GIS in the Spatial Analysis of an Archaeological Cave Site
Holley Moyes


Although archaeologists traditionally have viewed geographic information systems (GIS) as a tool for the investigation of large regions, its flexibility allows it to be used in non-traditional settings such as caves. Using the example of Actun Tunichil Muknal, a Terminal Classic Maya ceremonial cave in western Belize, this study demonstrates the utility of GIS as a tool for data display, visualization, exploration, and generation. Clustering of artifacts was accomplished by combining GIS technology with a K-means clustering analysis, and basic GIS functions were used to evaluate distances of artifact clusters to morphological features of the cave. Results of these analyses provided new insights into ancient Maya ritual cave use that would have been difficult to achieve by standard methods of map preparation and examination.

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