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The Takalik Abaj Monumental Stone Sculpture Project: High Definition Digital Documentation and Analysis

For over a century, archaeological investigations at the site of Takalik Abaj have focused on the site’s monumental stone carvings . An assemblage of 124 carved monuments, among the 326 stone objects that have been registered at the site, are considered one of the most eclectic collections in all of Mesoamerica, and make up an important component of the corpus of Mesoamerican stone sculpture. Yet, collectively, this unique communicative record has not been documented or published in a coordinated, comprehensive manner amenable to detailed analytical study.


The primary objective of the Takalik Abaj Monumental Stone Sculpture Project is to promote and facilitate independent and collaborative research into Middle Formative (c. 800 to 100 BC) and proto-Classic period (c. 100 BC to AD 300) archaeology, iconography, and epigraphy. To accomplish this goal the most accurate and complete visual, spatial, and historical documentation of the Takalik Abaj stone sculptures currently possible using “best available technologies” has been produced and are being made readily available to the international research community for purposes of preservation, management, analysis, and interpretation. A series of non-contact, non-destructive, state-of-the-art technologies were used to produce three-dimensional and two-dimensional imaging and to collect spatial location information that are incorporated into expressly prepared databases where they can be interactively examined, analyzed, and compared in readily accessible virtual environments.


Takalik Abaj 3D  Documentation, Guatemala
We gratefully acknowledge the support, cooperation, collaboration and consent of Miguel Orrego Corzo and Christa Schieber de Lavarreda, Directors of the Proyecto Nacional Tak'alik Ab'aj; the Ministry of Culture and Sports; the Director General of Cultural and Natural Patrimony; and the Guatemalan Institute of Anthropology and History. We also express our appreciation to the staff members of the Proyecto Nacional Tak'alik Ab'aj whose daily assistance and efforts were so valuable to our success. Juan Carlos Melendez, Director at the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Guatemala City also is thanked for allowing access to collections and permission and assistance with documentation activities at the museum. Special thanks are given for the important contributions of Felipe Guzman and the Guzman Montes family, who assisted us in multiple significant aspects of this project and provided us with their friendship and hospitality at Finca Buenos Aires. Felipe Guzman also assisted with logistics and arranged access for documentation on other fincas, and his participation was critical to the success of this project. Cooperation of the other finca owners was extremely helpful to this project, and the Finca Buenos Aires staff was indispensable to the success of our work. Industry support from Direct Dimensions, Inc. was also an important aspect of this project and we thank them for their contributions and expertise. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences Archaeology Program Grant number BCS-0911078




The Takalik Abaj project is in cooperation with the Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Direccion General del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural, PROJECTO NACIONAL TAK'ALIK AB'AJ, El Asintal, Retalhuleu.