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Holley MoyesGeographic Information Science IGERT
State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo
While many of my IGERT colleagues have their eyes on the future, mine are fixated on the past. As an archaeologist, I am interested in the power of ideology and more specifically, how religious ritual articulates with other social systems. I have chosen to examine the use of space in ritual cave sites because, almost universally, both natural and man-made caves have been used as ritual venues for ancient and modern people. The goal of my research is to better understand the nature of ancient religious ritual and its changes through time. Although my work has focused on Maya caves, I have also investigated cave sites in New Mexico, Israel, and Tibet. My MA project was conducted at Actun Tunichil Muknal, an ancient Maya cave site in western Belize. The picture you see of me was taken in the cave in 1998. The project was an intrasite spatial analysis using GIS. My aim was to examine the relationship between artifact placement and morphological features of the cave. The system proved to be a valuable tool for this type of research and since then, my interests have gravitated towards 3-D data modeling that could include a temporal dimension. In my dissertation I will be examining changes in religious practice over time at Chechem Ha cave in Western Belize. This site that was utilized by the ancient Maya from as early as 600 B.C. to as late as A.D. 950. I will analyze stratigraphic samples from the tunnel system. Using microstratigraphy, I will be able to determine the frequency and intensity of use in discrete activity areas by microscopically identifying use-floors. The data will allow me to illustrate changes in pathways and traffic patterns over time. In order to display and visualize the data, a 3-D data model will be developed using GIS. Knowledge of how the space was used as well as the use-frequency is a critical first step in understanding the nature of ritual practice and how it may have articulated with social conditions and natural forces occurring in the region at different points in time.
If you would like a list of my publications, visit the web site of the Western Belize Regional Cave Project: http://www.indiana.edu/~belize/people/holley_moyes.htm
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