3D Laser Scanning in Cave Environment: the Case of Las Cuevas, Belize

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


The Las Cuevas site is a Maya administrative and ceremonial center active during the latter part of the Late Classic period (700-900 AD) in Western Belize. It is of particular interest because a large cave resides directly beneath the largest temple in the site core. This paper presents the use of phase shift variation laser scanning technology (Faro Focus 3D) for the acquisition of the cave’s network of galleries (9 chambers) and a large excavation area (8x5 m) investigated in the entrance chamber in the summer of 2012. More than 300 scans were made to acquire the entire cave and the amount of 3D data collected was more than 400 GB. The creation of different level of details allowed the alignment and triangulation of the 3D models of the different chambers and units. The dimension (24x20x10 cm; 5 kg) and accuracy (± 2 mm at 10-25 m) of the laser scanner allowed complete documentation of the cave and units in just three weeks of work. The importance of this work relies on the possibility to use the processed data to systematically improve the archaeological understanding of Las Cuevas’ complex cave system, favoring the interpretation of socio-cultural dynamics linked to cave environments during the Late Classic. The use of 3D technologies can, in fact, help the understanding of how the space in the cave was used in the past for rituals and ceremonies. Moreover, the 3D millimetric reproduction of the excavation process linked to the 3D survey of the entire cave will be instrumental for the archaeological record’s preservation. Future scholars will have the opportunity to retrace the work made by archaeologists at Las Cuevas, starting new discussion and interpretations of the same 3D archaeological context.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology


  • Phase shift variation laser scanner, 3D documentation, Archaeological excavation, Cave, Interpretation
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2013 Digital Heritage International Congress
EditorsAlonzo C. Addison, Livio De Luca, Gabriele Guidi, Sofia Pescarin
PublisherIEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-1-4799-3169-9
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch
EventDigital Heritage international congres - Marseille
Duration: 2013 Oct 28 → …


ConferenceDigital Heritage international congres
Period2013/10/28 → …