Lindsay, Colleen , Lucero, Lisa , Seigler, David S. .
Classic Maya Landscape Modification: Yalbac, Belize.
The Classic Maya inhabited a vast stretch of land, extending across modern-day Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Mexico and Honduras. They settled into what are today considered “centers”, which contained monumental architecture that is still present on the landscape. One such center is the site of Yalbac in Belize. Considered to be a secondary center because of its smaller size in comparison to larger sites, such as Tikal or Palenque, Yalbac flourished from 300 B.C. until 900 A.D., when it was apparently abandoned. Yalbac has provided a vast quantity of information about the temples and basic constructs of the main aspects of the center, yet, the outlying areas have remained virtually untouched until recently. The area around Yalbac will provide more information about the people who actually lived around the center, not just the nobles who resided in centers. Maya farmers cultivated and modified native plants for medicinal, herbal, and food purposes. Wild plants were often incorporated into Maya gardens, resulting in a combination of both domesticated and wild plants, allowing the farmer to maintain some native species while inserting domesticated ones. These constructs are called ‘Forest Gardens’. After the Maya abandoned a particular garden, the way in which the native plants took over the modified landscape was influenced by the construction of these forest gardens. These ancient landscape modifications can therefore still be seen on the current landscape via present herbaceous and woody plants.
The broad impact of this research will be a comparative collection of plants that can be utilized by scientists studying the Maya. This research will lay the groundwork for future explorations into the plant communities of the Maya and perhaps be used as a starting point for researchers in other regions of the world studying the impact of native populations on the existing and past plant communities.
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1 - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Plant Biology, 505 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA
2 - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Anthropology, 607 S. Matthews Ave, Urbana, IL, 61801, USA
3 - University of Illinois Urbana, Department of Plant Biology, 265 Morrill Hall, 505 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois, 61801-3707, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: 556A/Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Time: 2:30 PM