Colorado State University Professors to Discuss High-Tech Archaeology at “Anthropology Connections”

Colorado State University professors Christopher Fisher and Stephen Leisz will discuss the rapidly changing face of archaeology and the use of modern technology in the search for ancient civilizations at “Anthropology Connections.”

The 90-minue presentation, titled “Archaeology from the sky: Using LiDAR and other remote sensing data to better understand ancient cities,” is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, in Room 103 of CSU’s Behavioral Sciences Building. The talk, followed by a question-and-answer period, is free and open to the public.

“We’re really in the midst of a scientific revolution – a paradigm shift, if you will – as it relates to archaeology,” said Fisher, an assistant professor of anthropology. “For a very long time, archaeology was time-consuming and difficult, with a low probability for actually finding what you were looking for. All of a sudden, with the advent of LiDAR and other aerial technologies, we are well beyond the scope of where we’ve ever been.”

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) creates a three-dimensional point cloud that documents everything between the surface of the landscape to the top of the canopy. By filtering this point cloud researchers can essentially remove dense forest cover to reveal the architectural features and human constructed landscapes that lie below. LiDAR has only recently been used in archaeology of tropical environments.

Fisher, working with Leisz, first used LiDAR in 2011 to aid in the mapping of a large ancient city in central Mexico, which had been initially documented in 2009. The city, part of the pre-Hispanic Purépecha (Tarascan) Empire, is believed to have held as many as 30,000 residents and thousands of architectural remains, including pyramids, roads, buildings, and the first documented ball court in the region.

Fisher and Leisz are also part of a team using LiDAR to reveal lost cities and landscapes in the Mosquitia region of Honduras, long rumored to contain the remains of Ciudad Blanco, the legendary lost “White City.”

For more information and to RSVP to the presentation, contact Jaime King at