88th Annual Meeting – Portland, USA.
March 30th, 2023
Project in collaboration with archaeologist Fernando Astudillo
Astudillo, Fernando (Universidad San Francisco de Quito) and Paúl Rosero (Universidad San Francisco de Quito)
 Digital Archaeology and Virtual Reality Models of the Penal Colonies in the Galápagos Islands (1860–1959)
Islands have been used by societies around the world to abandon, exile, or relocate those deemed unworthy. Repressive institutions, as a form of state infrastructure, have been created on the islands during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to detain political prisoners, immigrants, criminals, or the mentally ill. The ambiguous sovereign status and geographical remoteness of the islands were used as the perfect location to create violent repressive institutions. In South America, penal colonies existed on the Juan Fernández, Fernando de Noronha, Gorgona, Coiba, and Galápagos. Today, these prisons have been abandoned and the islands are mainly visited by scientists, biologists, and tourists. Our project is focusing on designing digital models of penal colonies that existed in the Galápagos. We use lidar, remote sensing, photogrammetry, and 3D/virtual reality to re-create abandoned buildings. The objectives are to understand the spatial organization of penal colonies, to explore the ecological impacts and its legacy on politics and identities, and to disseminate archaeological results through digital media for education and tourism. Culture and identities in the South American islands are taking shape in a scenario where memories of a violent past collide with ecological conservation and luxury ecotourism agendas.