The Chactún Regional Project: Study of an Archaeological Landscape in the Central Maya Lowlands

research project
Basic Info


This project proposal is motivated by the results of our archaeological surveys carried out in 2013 and 2014 in the eastern part of the Mexican federal state of Campeche: Chactún, Tamchén and Lagunita, three major urban centers that we discovered and documented, are the first field inspected sites within an extensive archaeologically unexplored area in the central part of the Yucatan peninsula; moreover, their sizes, architectural volumes, and the presence of sculpted monuments with hieroglyphic inscriptions and dates attest to their importance in the Late Classic regional political hierarchy, in which Chactún, one of the largest Maya cities known so far in the central lowlands, must have had a particularly prominent place. For the area covering about 80 km2 and including the three sites, we intend to obtain detailed information on archaeological remains detectable on surface, employing airborne laser scanning (lidar) and ground truthing. Analyses and interpretations of lidar-derived data complemented with those obtained through field verifications will enable us to determine the extents of settlements and the distribution and characteristics of other types of anthropogenic elements, and to search for correlations with environmental particularities. Based on the results of spatial analyses, and considering all the available contextual evidence, including chronological indicators, we intend to reconstruct the development of cultural landscape and to solve questions concerning settlement hierarchy, socio-political organization, agricultural land use, water management, communication routes, the impact of environmental factors on the selection of localities for settlement and other uses, and the role of religious ideas in the conceptualization of the natural and built environment and the formation of cultural landscape.

The project is financed by Slovenian Research Agency.

Project steps

2016: airborne laser scanning (lidar), data processing, preparations for field work;

2017: field verifications, data processing;

2018: field verifications, data processing and interpretation.



  • DUNNING, Nicholas P., ANAYA HERNÁNDEZ, Armando, BEACH, Timothy, CARR, Christopher, GRIFFIN, Robert, JONES, John E., LENTZ, David L., LUZZADDER-BEACH, Sheryl, REESE-TAYLOR, Kathryn, ŠPRAJC, Ivan. 2018. Margin for error: anthropogenic geomorphology of bajo edges in the Maya Lowlands. Geomorphology: an international journal of pure and applied geomorphology, ISSN 0169-555X. [Print ed.], doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.09.002 [COBISS.SI-ID 43482413]
  • KOKALJ, Žiga (avtor, fotograf), HESSE, Ralf, GREGORIČ BON, Nataša (urednik). 2017. Airborne laser scanning raster data visualization: a guide to good practice, (Prostor, kraj, čas, 14). Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ISBN 978-961-254-984-8. . [COBISS.SI-ID 288463616]
  • KOKALJ, Žiga, HESSE, Ralf, MULAHUSIĆ, Admir (avtor, prevajalec), KOKALJ, Žiga (fotograf, urednik), VELJANOVSKI, Tatjana (urednik). 2018. Vizuelizacija rasterskih podataka laserskog skeniranja iz zraka, (Prostor, kraj, čas, 16). Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ISBN 978-961-05-0099-5 [COBISS.SI-ID 295548416]
  • KOKALJ, Žiga, ZAKŠEK, Klemen, OŠTIR, Krištof. 2018. Wizualizacje modeli reliefu o wysokiej rozdzielczości. V: GOJDA, Martin (ur.), KOBYLIŃSKI, Zbigniew (ur.). Lotnicze skanowanie laserowe jako narzędzie archeologii, (Archaeologica hereditas, ISSN 2451-0521, 11). Warszawa: Instytut Archeologii Uniwersytetu Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego. str. 57-68 [COBISS.SI-ID 42996525]
  • ŠPRAJC, Ivan, TORRES DÍAZ, Luis Antonio, ESPARZA OLGUÍN, Octavio, MARSETIČ, Aleš. 2018. Paisaje arqueológico y dinámica cultural en el área de Chactún, Campeche (2016-2018): informe de la temporada 2017. Ljubljana: Centro de Investigaciones de la Academia Eslovena de Ciencias y Artes [COBISS.SI-ID 44339245]
  • ŠTAJDOHAR, Jasmina, KOKALJ, Žiga, ŠPRAJC, Ivan. 2018. Airborne laser scanning-based volumetric analysis of Maya settlement in the southeastern Campeche, Mexico. V: MILOGLAV, Ina (ur.). 6th International Scientific Conference Methodology & Archaeometry, Zagreb, 6th - 7th December 2018. Zagreb: Croatian Archaeological Society: Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, str. 55 [COBISS.SI-ID 44159789]


field surveys
landscape archaeology
remote sensing
Maya archaeology