Maya Wetlands: Natural and Anthropogenic


In our continuing endeavors to better understand Maya wetland formation and agricultural systems across the Maya Lowlands, we now compare natural and anthropogenic wetland field formation. Natural wetland processes can form patterned environments that may be similar visually to intensive, culturally modified, wetland systems. This paper will consider natural factors that can produce similar topography to Maya wetland fields. We will also present aerial photography, GIS, soil stratigraphy, and wetland chemistry to clarify the differences between natural wetland features, such as hogwallow, tree islands, ant mounds, and gilgai patterns, and intentional ancient canal and field systems. By developing new techniques to better quantify wetlands that have been culturally modified, it will be possible to improve upon previous models of identifying and mapping Maya agricultural systems and understanding other earth surface processes and forms.

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Cite this Record

Maya Wetlands: Natural and Anthropogenic. Samantha Krause, Timothy Beach, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Thomas Guderjan. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396174)


Belize Maya Wetland

Geographic Keywords
Central America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;