This dissertation results from the work conducted by the author within the frame of the Nasca-Palpa project at the chair of photogrammetry and remote sensing of ETH Zurich. The work presented here reports on the work conducted at ETH Zurich during the Nasca/Palpa project with the focus on the investigation of the geoglyphs, also known as the Nasca lines, in the Palpa area.
This thesis covers basically two main parts: Photogrammetric data acquisition, processing and geoglyph reconstruction for the Palpa region and the Pampa de Nasca and GIS-based management and analysis of the generated data, primarily for the geoglyphs of Palpa.
The motivation behind this work was the need for suitable data management and analysis methods demanded by the involved archaeologists to enable a quantitative study of the spatial characteristics of the geoglyphs and the surrounding landscape in order to better understand the social and cultural meaning of the geoglyphs. Aside from the geoglyphs, a second class of figurative remains was investigated: The petroglyphs of Chichictara.
Complementary to the archaeological investigations of our project partners, namely the German Archaeological Institute (DAI-KAAK), Bonn, Germany), the author concentrated on methods for 3D data acquisition for archaeological purposes in large and medium scale with the focus on photogrammetric methods. Furthermore, a second important focus was laid on the design of a GIS database containing archaeological and spatial information and the development of analysis methods with respect to the spatial characteristics of the archaeological objects to be investigated, in this case the geoglyphs in the Nasca region and the petroglyphs of Chichictara in south Peru. The accomplished work resulted in a wide variety of data and derived products and analysis results which led to new insights in the historical function and meaning of the geoglyphs of Nasca. The generated data consists of Digital TerrainModels derived from aerial and satellite imagery, 3D vector data representing the geoglyphs, high resolution orthoimages and numerical results of analyses performed based on the generated spatial data.
The applied and developed methods aim to investigate the geoglyphs in a manner that should be as objective as possible, trying to answer concrete archaeological questions. Though manifold hypotheses on the geoglyphs exist, the aim was not to focus on a single one but given the data available to investigate especially those which imply a spatial character for the subset of geoglyphs of Palpa. The methods applied for data acquisition, object definition and quantitative analysis of the geoglyphs are an important achievement of this thesis and can be applied in future studies on more complete sets of geoglyph data as well as for similar studies in other areas of investigation.
Analogue to the development of the GIS database for the geoglyphs, a database for petroglyph data was developed under consideration of the true 3D character of this rock art and its surrounding topography.
The developed databases, tools and analysis methods described here represent a system that is suited as a basis for archaeological interpretation of the landscape decorations in the Nasca and Palpa region and provides even an enormous potential for further analyses to be accomplished in the future. At the present state, the database contains data on the geoglyphs of Palpa and of a subset of the petroglyphs at Chichictara, though the developed data structure enables an enhancement with further data on both, Nasca time geoglyphs and Paracas time petroglyphs, from other sites.
Having these two valuable databases documenting the two classes of figures that engrave the landscape in such an impressive way, a wide range of possibilities of archaeological interpretation opens up for future work beyond this thesis, as well do the developed tools and methods presented here.
The author thanks the Swiss-Liechtenstein Foundation for Archaeological Research Abroad (SLSA), the AVINA foundation and ETH Zurich for their valuable support that enabled this thesis.