Areas covered by MAPHSA

The archaeological heritage of South America is facing increasing threats due to the expansion of agricultural activities, infrastructure expansion, illegal wood harvesting, and the current fire emergency plaguing the Amazon and other biomes of the continent.

The Mapping the Archaeological Pre-Columbian Heritage in South America (MAPHSA) project aims at producing the first leading integrated database for the pre-Columbian archaeological heritage of South America that will be Open Access, available on geospatial relational database, and serve as the primary resource for heritage protection and research repository for the continent. The project will draw from archival work, remote sensing, and on-ground survey to identify pre-Columbian heritage, assess its preservation, and develop state-of-the-art methods for automated detection of threatened archaeological sites.

Our goal

MAPHSA will document the archaeological heritage of about 3.5 million km2 of endangered forest and savanna biomes across Brazil and Colombia. This will be accomplished by a combination of archival work, remote sensing, machine learning, and ground survey. Results will be available on the open access and sustainable geospatial database.

The documentation will privilege areas with poor information and areas with high risk of destruction of the heritage located outside archaeological protected zones, because in these areas looters, infrastructure development, and natural hazards put heritage constantly at risk. The following research areas will be covered by MAPHSA:

  • Southwestern and Southern Amazon (Brazil)
  • The Cerrado Biome (Brazil)
  • The Caribbean region of Colombia
  • The Eastern cordillera and the Macizo Colombiano
  • The Eastern Lowlands of Colombia

In addition, one or more priority hotspots will be selected for each research area, depending on the first results. Priority areas will be selected for ground truthing of sites identified through remote sensing and machine learning, and for ground assessment of the state of preservation of legacy sites.

MAPHSA will also apply remote sensing and LiDAR approaches to identify areas with preserved sites and areas of high potential for archaeological sites. We will develop protocols for rapid digital assessment and monitoring of archaeological site preservation, including an application monitoring fire forest destruction in connection with heritage data.