Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I've been updating my website a bit to integrate some of the various bits and to give the thing a bit of simpler format. Its not particularly extensive but I definitely prefer this template than the MS-crap that preceded it. Check it out at http://www.csulb.edu/~clipo/ The next step is to update the Program in Archaeological Science website. We need to do some re-working of the text to reflect our new "relationship" with the rest of Anthropology. Some of the actual details about our program, though, have yet to be worked out.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Although the results we obtained using the FLIR thermal camera were not exactly what we hoped (largely due to the lens that was only 22 degrees rather than 45 degrees - and the lower-than-hoped-for elevation of the blimp), the thermal images we did get were fairly interesting if not intriguing. to the left is an image of an area around the excavation units Oswaldo began (centered on a monument discovered through plowing). The dark vertical lines are matted sugarcane and the areas betweeen them are about 8 meters in width (to give you a sense of scale). The bright area in the middle is the excavation unit - the rocks that are exposed are quite a bit hotter than the surrounding area. The dark areas around that are the backdirt from the unit. Note, though, that there is a diagnal "warm" area that goes from the NW to the SE (and this is generally the direction of the photo) right through the excavation unit. This likely is caused by the larger # of rocks in the plowzone than in the NE corner - and indicative of subsurface architecture. In the next set of images note the patterns of light and dark - there is clearly information there that is telling us about the composition of the plowzone. The warm temperature is likely due to the heating of subsurface rocks, the primary architectural material. We will have to correlate these results to the magnetometry and ground penetrating radar data, but quite intriguing. Note that the bright two spots on the image on the right are burning buckets of diesel fuel, used as "aerial targets" for the thermal images.

Bilbao - topo map

One of the more grueling tasks that Hector Neff took on during the project was the topographic mapping of Bilbao. Walking in systematic 10 meter transects across the deposit and using our Trimble Pathfinder Pro XRS he was able to generate GPS data for most of the area. I then post-processed the data using a public basestation in Guatemala City. The results are actually fairly remarkable. Although there are some odd effects that need to be blanked out (edges in particular) and some strange zig-zags (need to edit the grid), the map is fairly representative of what the place looks like. Compare these to the blimp photos below.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Balloon Photography

We had remarkably good luck with the blimp and camera system down in Guatemala. Ultimately, we had to get a tank of hydrogen and add additional balloons to the top of the blimp to keep everything afloat (we used a heavy camera), but the results we got were quite excellent. This photo at the urban center of Bilbao is particularly good (though a little blurry at the highest resolution). With shadows late in the day, it shows the giant rectangular mounds that comprise the deposit. Note that the scale of this photos is about 300 meters across.

Back from Guatemala

Made it back from Guatemala and the brief field season down there. We got some great work done - particularly with the GPR. Once we get some of the data processed I'll upload some images. Here we have students getting read for GPR, conductivity and mag - beneath the smoking volcano Fuego.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Guatemala City

Arrived at 6:30 this morning after a long flight with little to good to speak of. But all is well. I met up with Hector and we breakfasted at the downtown Marriott - there's always a big good hotel to cluster at in foreign cities - and in Guatemala, the Marriott is it. Found a cafe - good guatemalean coffee comes with the computer connection. Whoohoo! now this I can get to like. The weather is sunny but cool and breezy. The streets are buzzing with thirdworld action. We are going to be doing some searching for a cable so we can download data from the magnetometer (it was forgotten) so we are killing some time before the shops open.

Sunday, January 7, 2007


One might think that a central hub like LA with flights to virtually all places on the globe -- that the place would run like a well-run watch. It seems reasonable given the numbers of flights that go in and out of this place --it would have to be organized. If one made such an assumption, one would be a moron. LAX is the stock pavillion airports -a stock pavillion run by cats on crack. This place make one feel the new global economy is not really going to be that shining place that so many make it out to be - it just sucks. too many people,too many idiots in charge who probably dont fly anwhere. that said. here I am. using one of those chicklet keyboard kiosks wasting time before I get of my fight to guatemala city. all is good, except the heat is turned up to 1000 and the place smells of bad cheese. Oh, and when I checked the ticket agent asked me "which bag was my priority bag" since, apparently, they cant guarantee that *both* of them will make it. Now -- whats up with that??? cant they predict how much luggage space they will have by the # of tickets sold? and whats up with getting me to sign a voucher that I "volunteered" to separate from my bag. ah, the joys of flying. I think its time to give walking a chance again -if you cant walk there, is it really worth going? well, till I reach some guatemalean wireless - ciao.

Cotzumalguapa Bound

Going to be taking a red-eye flight tonight to Guatemala. I'll leave LAX at 11:50 and arrive in Guatemala City a bleary 7:30AM or so. I'm prepared - though - for sleeping the entire way. At least I hope. I am hauling with me an FLIR thermal infrared camera that we rented from www.americaninfrared.com. This is a sweet camera - 14-bit resolution, false color imaging, and 0.1degree C sensitivity. Check out the crazy image of Maeve, our collie/australian shepherd hound mix. Wild. We are going to be suspending the camera from a 9' foot helium blimp (www.floatograph.com) and then studying the surface of the deposit at night (or just around dusk). As the temperatures change we expect that the buried stone architecture will cool slower than the surrounding matrix. This has worked well for other archaeologists (e.g., Ken Kvamme at the Double Ditch Site. ). We are hopeful for our work at El Baul given that we have a good solid aerial platform and an excellent camera. What we don't know is if the stone architecture is too deep to detect with thermal images. We shall certainly see!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Easter Island and Moai

Just updated the KML file for the Easter Island Archaeological Database . The file now includes pukao - the big red "top knot" (or hats) that were on many of the statues. We have recorded about 75 of these so far and the database has photos of each. Eventually, I'll link more metric and descriptive measurements to the database (for pukao and moai). Check this all out at: http://www.csulb.edu/~clipo/Moai/

Thursday, January 4, 2007


I am preparing to head down to Guatemala on Sunday night - to do some geophysical work at the Cotzumalguapa Nuclear Zone - a fancy word for a large late Classic urban center in the foothills of the south Coast. You can read about it here: http://www.authenticmaya.com/Cotzumalguapa.htm http://www.famsi.org/reports/99053/index.html http://www.famsi.org/reports/02023/index.html I will be working with my colleague at CSULB, Hector Neff, and Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos We are going to be doing GPR, conductivity, and magnetometry work at a number of areas. We are also going to be experimenting with a thermal camera and blimp system to see if we can detect subsurface architectural remains. I'll try to post photos of our work while we are down there, if I can find an internet cafe nearby and if Hector allows us to take breaks from the field work.

Welcome to the Beach

Part of my New Year's commitment is begin doing things in a more deliberate and purposeful fashion - or at least to emulate that idea. Lately, I've had a rootless feeling that seems to be related to doing things (teaching, research) in a rote fashion without much purpose. This blog is one effort to be more focused in my efforts. Of course, this may end up nowhere and without a point, but let's give it a whirl.