Integrates recent data from bone-chemistry research, paleopathology, paleobotany, zooarchaeology, and ethnobotany to show what the ancient Maya actually ate at various periods and how it affected the quality of their lives.
Thanks to powerful innovations in archaeology and other types of historical research, we now have a picture of everyday life in the Mayan empire that turns the long-accepted conventional wisdom on its head. * Includes numerous illustrations and drawings plus depictions of important artifacts such as the murals of Bonampak and the hieroglyphic stairway of Copan * Provides detailed maps of major Maya cities as well as other research sites
For the ancient Maya, food was both sustenance and a tool for building a complex society. This collection, the first to focus exclusively on the social uses of food in Classic Maya culture, deploys a variety of theoretical approaches to examine the meaning of food beyond diet—ritual offerings and restrictions, medicinal preparations, and the role of nostalgia around food, among other topics. For instance, how did Maya feasts build community while also reinforcing social hierarchy? What psychoactive substances were the elite Maya drinking in their caves, and why? Which dogs were good for eating, and which breeds became companions? Why did even some non-elite Maya enjoy cacao, but rarely meat? Why was meat more available for urban Maya than for those closer to hunting grounds on the fringes of cities? How did the molcajete become a vital tool and symbol in Maya gastronomy? These chapters, written by some of the leading scholars in the field, showcase a variety of approaches and present new evidence from faunal remains, hieroglyphic texts, chemical analyses, and art. Thoughtful and revealing, Her Cup for Sweet Cacao unlocks a more comprehensive understanding of how food was instrumental to the development of ancient Maya culture.
A comprehensive work, combining traditional zooarchaeological reports and various state-of-the-art summaries of methods and theoretical perspectives. This combination of detailed discussions of basic zooarchaeological data with reviews of important themes in Maya zooarchaeology emphasizes the central issues that guide our research from basic data collection through final comparative interpretation. The chapters emphasize the newest developments in technical methods, the most recent trends in the analysis of "social zooarchaeology," and the broadening perspectives provided by a new geographic range of investigations. The main focus of the volume remains on fostering cooperation among Mesoamerican zooarchaeologists at the levels of both preliminary analysis and final theoretical reconstruction.
This volume presents the data, analyses, and interpretation of a wide range of osteological and burial data. The Petexbatun bioarchaeology subproject included complete assessment of burial practice and osteology. The chapters on this research explore population variability in time and space, paleopathology, and trauma from skeletal remains throughout the various sites and the inter-site areas of the Petexbatun, as well as from Seibal and Altar de Sacrificios. Yet Wright's innovative study goes on to apply the most recent physical and chemical techniques, particularly isotopic analysis, to assess diet and health in the populations of the Pasion region. Variability between sites, across levels of status, and over time are assessed and conservatively interpreted in the light of contemporary issues and problems of physical, chemical, and statistical methodology. Finally, the Petexbatun and Pasion region results are compared in order to reassess past and current studies and interpretation of skeletal remains in other regions of the ancient Maya lowlands. In the final chapters of this work, Wright's cutting-edge osteological analyses are used to critique current alternative interpretations of Late Classic to Postclassic culture history and alternative hypotheses on the role of changes in climate, ecology, diet, nutrition, invasion, and other factors in the end of Classic Maya civilization and the transition to the Postclassic period. This volume also provides an independent assessment of the results of other Petexbatun region subprojects and a comparative evaluation of recent studies by other projects of Late and Terminal Classic culture change. For bioarchaeologists, this work sets a new standard in breadth and depth of osteological study. For Pre-Columbian scholars in general, it provides new insights into the environmental and biological issues involved in the debate on the end of the Classic period of Maya civilization. VIMA Series #2
This book adopts a human ecology approach to present an overview of the biological responses to social, political, economic, cultural and environmental changes that affected human populations in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, since the Classic Maya Period. Human bodies express social relations, and we can read these relations by analyzing biological tissues or systems, and by measuring certain phenotypical traits at the population level. Departing from this theoretical premise, the contributors to this volume analyze the interactions between ecosystems, sociocultural systems and human biology in a specific geographic region to show how changes in sociocultural and natural environment affect the health of a population over time. This edited volume brings together contributions from a range of different scientific disciplines – such as biological anthropology, bioarchaeology, human biology, nutrition, epidemiology, ecotoxicology, political economy, sociology and ecology – that analyze the interactions between culture, environment and health in different domains of human life, such as: The political ecology of food, nutrition and health Impacts of social and economic changes in children’s diet and women’s fertility Biological consequences of social vulnerability in urban areas Impacts of toxic contamination of natural resources on human health Ecological and sociocultural determinants of infectious diseases Culture, Environment and Health in the Yucatan Peninsula – A Human Ecology Perspective will be of interest to researchers from the social, health and life sciences dedicated to the study of the interactions between natural environments, human biology, health and social issues, especially in fields such as biological and sociocultural anthropology, health promotion and environmental health. It will also be a useful tool to health professionals and public agents responsible for designing and applying public health policies in contexts of social vulnerability.
This manuscript presents the results of 35 years of archaeological research at the Maya site of Pacbitun, located in Belize, with a 2000-year history of occupation starting at 900 BC. Excavations ranged from small domestic houses dating to the Middle Preclassic to large ceremonial architecture complexes dating to AD 900.
What can we learn from the people of the Maya Lowlands? Integrating history, biodiversity, ethnobotany, geology, ecology, archaeology, anthropology, and other disciplines, The Lowland Maya Area is a valuable guide to the fascinating relationship between man and his environment in the Yucatán peninsula. This book covers virtually every aspect of the biology and ecology of the Maya Lowlands and the many ways that human beings have interacted with their surroundings in that area for the last three thousand years. You'll learn about newly discovered archaeological evidence of wetland use; the domestication and use of cacao and henequen plants; a biodiversity assessment of a select group of plants, animals, and microorganisms; the area's forgotten cotton, indigo, and wax industries; the ecological history of the Yucatán Peninsula; and much more. This comprehensive book will open your eyes to all that we can learn from the Maya people, who continue to live on their native lands, integrating modern life with their old ways and teaching valuable lessons about human dependence on and management of environmental resources. The Lowland Maya Area explores: the impact of hurricanes and fire on local environments historic and modern Maya concepts of forests the geologic history of the Yucatán challenges to preserving Maya architecture newly-discovered evidence of fertilizer use among the ancient Maya cooperation between locals and researchers that fosters greater knowledge on both sides recommendations to help safeguard the future The Lowland Maya Area is an ideal single source for reliable information on the many ecological and social issues of this dynamic area. Providing you with the results of the most recent research into many diverse fields, including traditional ecological knowledge, the difficult transition to capitalism, agave production, and the diversity of insect species, this book will be a valuable addition to your collection. As the editors of The Lowland Maya Area say in their concluding chapter: “If we are to gain global perspective from the changing Maya world, it is that understanding space and time is absolutely critical to human persistence.” Understanding how the Maya have interacted with their environment for thousands of years while maintaining biodiversity will help us understand how we too can work for sustainable development in our own environments.
Claude Baudez, William L. Fash, Jr., Berthold Riese, William T. Sanders, and David Webster contribute to this monograph, and using an integrated art historical and anthropological approach, consider the House of the Bacabs' context as an elite Maya structure, its excavation and restoration, and its iconographic and epigraphic reconstruction and interpretation, to establish models for understanding Classic Maya social and political life.
The Maya Tropical Forest, which occupies the lowlands of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, is the closest rainforest to the United States and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Western Hemisphere. It has been home to the Maya peoples for nearly four millennia, starting around 1800 BC. Ancient cities in the rainforest such as Palenque, Yaxchilan, Tikal, and Caracol draw thousands of tourists and scholars seeking to learn more about the prehistoric Maya. Their contemporary descendants, the modern Maya, utilize the forest's natural resources in village life and international trade, while striving to protect their homeland from deforestation and environmental degradation. Writing for both visitors and conservationists, James Nations tells the fascinating story of how ancient and modern Maya peoples have used and guarded the rich natural resources of the Maya Tropical Forest. He opens with a natural history that profiles the forest's significant animals and plants. Nations then describes the Maya peoples, biological preserves, and major archaeological sites in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Drawing on more than twenty-five years of conservation work in the Maya Tropical Forest, Nations tells first-hand stories of the creation of national parks and other protected areas to safeguard the region's natural resources and archaeological heritage. He concludes with an expert assessment of the forest's future in which he calls for expanded archaeological tourism to create an ecologically sustainable economic base for the region.
This book provides examples of analytical methods in a variety of archaeological materials. It presents analytical techniques that incur no visible destruction of the artifact under examination. Using patterns in the analytical data derived from a wide variety of analytical methods, different components of past human behavior are inferred, including diet, technology of manufacture, source of raw materials, trade routes, and determination of age.