Modelling Mexican Mayan temples in 3D

Four successful field campaigns (Calakmul in 2010, Edzna in 2013, 2016, 2018) have been undertaken by our department to map Mexican Mayan temples in 3D. At the sites of Calakmul and Edzna, the archaeological structures were photographed from different angles and additionally a large number of topographical measurements and GNSS observations were completed. The resulting 3D models are highly accurate and can help the Mexican Anthropological Institute (INAH) in managing this heritage. Furthermore, the models are used to develop an online management and analysis environment or 3D GIS model. As now time series of the structures become available, they will allow the study of erosion and deformation of these structures. First results in this research topic indicate the expansion of the main temple due to heavy rainfall in the wet season. In addition, since 2016 infrared (near infrared and thermal infrared) imagery in combination with RGB is allowing to underpin prospection activities of INAH. A series of unexcavated historic temples and hydrographic structures have already been discovered in the surrounding forest. All these different sensors can be mounted on a UAV or drone which is programmed to fly a trajectory above the forest. The results of these campaigns are reported to the archaeologists of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH).

Research units

Staff members


  • Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) (campagne Calakmul & Edzna)

  • UNESCO (campagne Calakmul)

  • Université de Liège (campagne Calakmul)

  • GIM (campagne Calakmul)

  • BELSPO (campagne Calakmul)