July 14, 2019

New Research on Maize and the Maya Collapse

Researchers studied the remains of 50 human burials at Cahal Pech, Belize. The burials ranged from 735 BCE-850 CE. In the earliest periods, elites and commoners had a diverse diet that included maize, wild plants, and animals. This food diversity helped insulate the population in a 300-100 BCE drought. Then at 750-900 CE, the need for intensive agriculture due to population expansion led to increasing reliance on maize.

The elites demanded increased maize production on the local population. Then another severe drought came from 750-900, and the over-reliance on maize gave the population less food flexibility, and the collapse happened.

The research is reported in Current Anthropology;
“The Role of Diet in Resilience and Vulnerability to Climate Change among Early Agricultural Communities in the Maya Lowlands”

Archaeology News Network has the report here;

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Maya News on Tumblr

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