(University of Toronto, Canada)

Outline: To build three-dimensional models of the urban ceremonial structures located at Jatanca, Northern Peru in efforts to understand relationships between the built and natural environments. By combining archaeologcial prospection and excavation with computational spatial analytical methods, a better understanding of the intended fuction of the ceremonial compunds will be considered in relation the urban setting in which they were located.

Abstract: Formal analysis of architectural spaces designed for ritual or ceremonial purposes has the potential to reveal the intended functional physicality of these spaces while yielding information on the underlying ideologies of a given community.  As has been widely established, the retroactive application of space syntax methods to archaeological settings is notoriously difficult with the notable exception of a handful of uniquely well preserved sites such as at Pompeii and Akrotiri that have attracted much attention. When available avenues of quantitative spatial analysis are applied to the two-dimensional plans of architectural remains from most archaeological contexts, the results have proven to be equally as flat and theoretically reductive. The current paper will utilize the computational power of DepthMap software in a new manner, treating the visualized output not as final result, but as an interpretive layer within a three-dimensional consideration of ritual architectural  space as emotive place that is strongly related to the topography of surrounding landscape.  Located in the Jequetepeque Valley of the North Coast of Peru, the Late Formative Period (ca. 500BC-1AD) early urbanized site of Jatanca is a collection of six large ceremonial plaza compounds that are attributed to the Gallinazo culture that predates the Moche and Chimu-Inca period monumental architectural programmes for which the region is famed. With each of these compounds composed of a repeated sequence of nested plazas, platforms, baffled entries and restricted corridors leading to increasingly more private space, this reduction of access has been interpreted as directly correlated to ritual significance.  Constructed of extremely durable rammed-earth walls covering a four hectare area, the exceptional degree of preservation of these compounds has allowed for the creation of complete and accurate architectural plans on which the current study is based. By building fully navigable three-dimensional digital models of the various compounds, the put of DepthMap tests within these spaces can be applied as the floor level of the models, allowing for a qualitative and quasi-experiential comparison of the quantitative computational results. By embedding the these models within a three dimensional digital terrain model of the topography of the surrounding region, the vistas beyond the compound walls will be made available for comparison to various points along the highly proscribed processional movements that were clearly fundamental to the experience of these spaces.  Considering the Andean cosmological importance of mountains and other landscape features in antiquity, the orientation of these compounds in relation to their surroundings will be investigated directly. In addition, by analyzing these models using three-dimensional mapping software that is capable of recreating the position of the sun and night sky at any time and date, any potential astronomic significance of the orientation of the compounds will be explored as well.  With movement through these ceremonial settings as highly choreographed, this study will exploit and test the interpretive potential of computational approaches to the analysis of architectural remains in archaeological settings beyond the limits of the built environment, hopefully opening a dialogue on the need for increased consideration of three-dimensional aspects that largely go unattended to in current spatial analysis.

Keywords: Archaeology, Pre-Colombian Andes, Ceremonial architecture, Landscape,  DepthMap, Three-dimensional modelling and analysis, Phenomenology