Environmental change & landscape adaptation at an ancient Maya aguada, Buctzotz Yucatán

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Dale, Jedidiah Ernest

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Aguadas, or ancient Maya reservoirs, represent a significant feature of Maya water management and landscape adaption. Through constructing aguadas, Maya settlements were able to increase their access to fresh water. There is significant variability in the form and function of aguadas throughout the Maya Lowlands. As a result interpreting the natural and human history of a given aguada requires a multi-proxy approach. Maya water management aguadas can provide an important record of paleoenvironmental change in close proximity to Maya sites. Here we present multi-proxy geoarchaeological data of an Aguada from the Late Preclassic and Post Classic (BP 2500 to 1040) occupation site of Santa Rosa, Mexico located northeast of the town of Buctzotz in the northern Yucatan coastal plain. We retrieved a 255cm long sediment core form the aguada. We were unable to identify pollen in the sample, so we focused on opal phytoliths to infer the biogenic depositional environment. Geochemical information, obtained through XRF, provides additional proxies for the study of changes in sedimentation and core lithology. We find evidence of human activity, including cultivation, in the watershed beginning in the Late Preclassic. Two significant drought periods are present in the record, one likely at the Terminal Preclassic, and one likely at the Terminal Classic. We find persistence of human utilization through both events, demonstrating the complexity of past Maya responses to climactic instability.


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