Universidad Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) together with the Centre for Global Heritage and Development and the Instituto Colombiano de Antropologia e Historia (ICAHN, Colombia) have been successful in applying for funding from ARCADIA'S Preserving Endangered Culture programme. The Mapping Pre-Columbian Heritage in South America project (MAPHSA) aims at producing the first leading integrated database for the pre-Columbian archaeological heritage of South America that will be Open Access and serve as the primary resource for heritage protection and research repository for the continent.
Remote sensing has been successfully applied to identify pre-Columbian earthworks in the forested and savanna regions of South America, changing our perception of the scale of landscape modification in regions that were previously thought to be pristine (de Souza et al., 2018; Schaan et al., 2012). Furthermore, the remote identification of sites under the forest canopy started to become a reality also through the application of LiDAR technology.
However, the full impact of past human occupation in many forested and savanna regions of South America, and consequently the heritage connected to them, is very much underestimated.
The initial approach will focus on key areas of the Amazon and the Cerrado savanna in Brazil, and the Congo micro-basin in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia as these are diverse geographical settings that will allow for developing and adapting the methodological approach as well as acting in areas with real and direct threat to heritage.
The Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Leiden University have a long tradition of research in the history and prehistory of South America and they are well recognized players in the area, with strong local collaborations and projects in the Amazon, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, The Colombian Eastern Highlands and Eastern Llanos, Llanos de Moxos, the Pampas, the Atacama Desert and Tierra del Fuego.
The Colombia research component is led by Dr. Sebastian Fajardo Bernal and started in January 2023, hosted by LIACS.