Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, Vol 2, No 1 (2016)

Using Virtual Reality to Understand Astronomical Knowledge and Historical Landscapes at Preclassic Cerros, Belize

Jeffrey Ryan Vadala, Susan Milbrath

Abstract


This investigation explores the emergence of ancient astronomical systems of knowledge at the site of Cerros, Belize. We argue that the ancient Maya of Cerros early on observed features in the coastal landscape that marked zenith events, and over time they constructed buildings to memorialize this observation point on a unique promontory at the site. As the site grew, the system of observation at Cerros developed into a form of architecture that only elites could access, thus creating a separate privileged form of knowledge. Later construction marked other important horizon events, most notably the spring equinox. The architecture itself became a form of landscape that helped mould their ceremonial activities. Using three-dimensional reconstructions of the site based on recorded archaeological data, we focus on how the Maya at Cerros developed an astronomically influenced cosmological system.

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DOI: 10.1558/jsa.v2i1.26915

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