Title

Moderate-resolution remote sensing and geospatial analyses of microclimates, mounds, and maize in the Northern Great Lakes

Abstract

Remote sensing applications are increasingly common in archaeology but they often focus on high resolution imagery and direct archaeological site detection. Moderate spatial resolution remote sensing instruments, which have (near) daily repeat intervals, but contain less detailed spectral and spatial information, have been employed much less frequently in archaeology. However, moderate remote sensing data offer distinct advantages for archaeological research as they can be used to relate archaeological, ecological, and climactic data at vast spatial scales. To show this potential, we use moderate remote sensing data to examine the impact of landscape heterogeneity on the spread of indigenous maize horticulture in the northern Great Lakes during Late Precontact (ca. AD 1200-1600). Analyzing National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery, we identify differences in freeze/thaw cycles across inland lakes in Michigan, showing that some large inland lakes produce a microclimatic amelioration, possibly extending the growing season for prehistoric maize cultivation. Conducting geospatial analyses, we find that burial mounds and maize cultivation practices were associated preferentially with larger inland lakes with microclimates. We could not have found these dynamic interrelationships between microclimates, burial mounds, and maize cultivation if not for both the frequent temporal imaging and large spatial coverage provided by moderate resolution remote sensing imagery.

Publication Date

8-2014

Journal Title

Advances in Archaeological Practice

Publisher

Society for American Archaeology

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.7183/2326-3768.2.3.195

Document Type

Article