Publication Date

Fall 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Global Studies


Kathrine Richardson


animation, dynamic mapping, GIS, interactive mapping, Maya, Mayan archaeological sites

Subject Areas

Geographic information science and geodesy; Geography; Archaeology


In order to visualize ancient Mayan settlement patterns and demography through time, data derived from 26 published archaeological sites were collected and plotted onto three discrete map media. These data were subdivided into six time periods ranging from Pre-Classic to Post-Classic, and were simulated for each map medium. Specific attention was given during the selection of geographical locations, natural landscape features, map annotation, layers and coordinates. Tabulated information were site names, coordinates, site founding dates, site decline/abandonment dates, and estimated population. Combined with existing country base map layers downloaded from online geographical sources and time series animation (an animated map), the data show ancient Mayan settlement patterns and demography during the time period spanning from 1500 BC to AD 1542. This pilot study demonstrated that of the three applied map media (static, interactive, and animated), it is the animated version that best represents data visualization changes in ancient Mayan settlement patterns, demography, and potential causes of decline/abandonment.