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Rain Harvesting in the Rainforest: The Ancient Maya Agricultural Landscape of Calakmul, Campeche, Mexico


£28.00
S1879
9781407303598
Helga Geovannini Acuña
2008
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Description

The main subject discussed in this study is the way in which the ancient Maya of Calakmul (modern Mexico), who thrived between 900 B.C. to A.D. 1000, managed their landscape in order to survive in the tropical rainforest. Their lithic technology, the hot, humid climate with a prolonged dry season, the lack of permanent surface sources of fresh water, and thin soils, considered insufficient for sustained agricultural production, are factors that were addressed successfully by the Maya in developing their complex civilization. The author’s research begins with landscape, archaeological, and edaphological analyses, after which she explores the areas most advantageous to permanent habitation, suitable agricultural zones, land potential of the region and the capability of the area for supporting population. In addition, a complex agricultural channel irrigation system is explored as a critical factor for managing productive terrain for agriculture in karstic depressions (bajos). Similarly, an impressive rain harvesting system is exposed as an option to optimize hydrological resources for canalizing excessive rain during the wet season and storing water during the dry period. Finally, a reconstruction of the agricultural landscape is proposed.