A Case Study of the Mayan Civilization and Strategies Used by Mayan Society for Judicious Use of Water in their Ancient Agroecological Systems

Julia Wright, Magnolia Tzec-Gamboa, Francisco Javier Solorio Sánchez, Luis Ramírez-Avilés, Immo Fiebrig, Manuel Pulido, Saikat Kumar Basu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The Mayan civilization is one of the best known ancient cultures that inhabited Mesoamerica. It originated around 2600 BC in the Yucatan Peninsula, El Salvador, Belize and Honduras. Recent research indicates the devastating impacts of climate change on this culture. Researchers found signs of historic droughts that affected Mayan society, and the information provides answers to longstanding questions about the role climate change played in Mayan cultural collapse. The dominant agricultural systems of the Mayan civilization were mostly intensive farming systems based on a rotational slash and burn process. Most of their crops were grown on a rotational pattern for their own consumption, and comprised mostly maize, squash and beans. When the soil lost its fertility, Mayan farmers applied slash and burn on a new area of the local forest; meanwhile the abandoned area recovered its fertility under period of fallow when the forest regenerated. The current review highlights the available information on the impact of the Mayans on the natural resources and the impact of climate change on ancient Mayan society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironment at Crossroads: Challenges, Dynamics and Solutions
EditorsSaikat Kumar Basu, Peiman Zandi, Shahram Khademi Chalaras
Place of PublicationIran
PublisherHaghshenass Publication
Pages161-168
Number of pages8
Edition1st
ISBN (Print)978- 600-7304-85-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Mayan civilization
  • agriculture
  • slash and burn systems
  • water

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