Urban Carnivores, Rural Vegetarians? Faunal discrepancies over time and space at Mayapan

Author(s): Marilyn Masson

Year: 2017


A usually predictable attribute of Postclassic Maya settlements (in Belize and Yucatan) is the abundance of faunal remains relative to preceding Classic Period contexts. This discrepancy is not attributable to taphonomy or bone age, given the recovery of human bone from both periods and the abundance of fauna in even earlier Preclassic deposits. Robust forest environments, balanced human predation levels, and variable animal husbandry practices represent the best explanations for the wealth of Postclassic game. Yet, while urban Mayapan (within the 4.2 sq km city wall) boasts dense deposits, peripheral Mayapan (outside the wall) does not, attesting to unequal access to animal resources according to residential zone and occupation. These new results suggest that animals served as more than generic "staples" among the commoner populace at the city and that politico-economic and social factors were at play. While urban conditions generally promote commoner wealth and economic interdependency at the site, farmers’ houselots in the periphery did not experience equitable benefits. In contrast, the scarcity of faunal resources at Terminal Classic households (in Belize and Yucatan) is most probably attributed to environmental or human-ecological stress.

Cite this Record

Urban Carnivores, Rural Vegetarians? Faunal discrepancies over time and space at Mayapan. Marilyn Masson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431233)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14715