Digital Maya Heritage

Project Principal Investigator: Nicola Lercari, Ph.D.

Project Members: Arianna Campiani, Ph.D.

Collaborators: Rodrigo Liendo Stuardo, Ph.D.

Project Description:

The purpose of this project is to define a new approach to the study and preservation of Maya archaeological heritage that is able to promote digital documentation methods of heritage sites and disseminate results in under-documented areas of Southern Mexico. To achieve these goals, we are starting a partnership with the Proyecto Regional Palenque (Palenque Regional Project- PREP, developed by Dr. Rodrigo Liendo of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where also UC Berkeley is collaborating. To test the proposed methodology and assess its impact on local communities and project partners, the UC Merced team will conduct fieldwork and train Mexican graduate and undergraduate students and local staff at the UNESCO World Heritage site at Palenque in the State of Chiapas. Partnering with UC San Diego Center for Cyber-Archaeology and Sustainability and UCSD Library, the project also experiments with new methodologies of online data curation and dissemination based on open access, 3D visualization, and high-speed networks. Thus, the project uses the Pacific Research Platform (PRP), the new UC big data freeway system, to share and co-locate Big Cultural Heritage Data (BCHD) over this high-speed network to be distributed in state-of-the-art 3D visualization platforms, such as the UC Merced Wide-Area Visualization Environment (WAVE), connecting partner UC campuses.

The project explores alternative means of dissemination for visitors and local communities in Chiapas based on augmented reality and mobile apps. Mobile technologies currently developed in my lab at UC Merced under my UC President’s Research Catalyst Award, will make 3D models, maps, and archaeological interpretations available to the public and local communities visiting Palenque simply by downloading a custom-made mobile app. Using this mobile app, visitors and local communities will be able to locate and scan target images placed in pre-determined points of interests and access a version of the database customized for the general public.