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

Authors

  • Jeffrey Ryan Vadala University of Florida
  • Susan Milbrath Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/jsa.v2i1.26915

Keywords:

astronomy, Cerros, landscape, Maya, Preclassic, Virtual reality

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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Author Biographies

Jeffrey Ryan Vadala, University of Florida

Jeffrey Vadala is a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida.

Susan Milbrath, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

Susan Milbrath is with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, and holds her degrees from Columbia University. Her research interests include the Mesoamerican worldview and connections between seasonal festivals and astronomy, the Codex Borgia, and the archaeology and ethnohistory of Mayapán, Her most recent publications include Heaven and Earth in Ancient Mexico: Astronomy and Seasonal Cycles in the Codex Borgia (University of Texas Press, in press).

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Published

2016-07-01

How to Cite

Vadala, J. R., & Milbrath, S. (2016). Using Virtual Reality to Understand Astronomical Knowledge and Historical Landscapes at Preclassic Cerros, Belize. Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, 2(1), 25–44. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsa.v2i1.26915

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Section

Research Articles