Inland, Urban vs. Coastal, Rural Salt Production in the Southern Maya Lowlands: The View from Salinas de los Nueve Cerros
Author(s): Brent Woodfill
Salinas de los Nueve Cerros is the only non-coastal salt source in the Maya lowlands. For over two millennia, Nueve Cerros’ residents produced massive quantities of salt that was commercialized throughout the western Maya world. Unlike the Caribbean saltworks, the salt here was contained within a large urban zone. The saltworks used a variety of techniques to make the finished product, boiling brine and leaching salt-laden soils as in Paynes Creek but also scraping the salt flats. Each of these activities occurred in contexts that were tightly controlled by the ruling class—the workshops were adjacent to administrative structures containing wealthy tombs and both the salt dome and the brine stream were ringed by palaces, temples, and other elite structures that marked them as restricted, elite space.
While the elite did control access to the salt source and the whole production process, the public had access to large quantities of the finished product, which they were able to use to produce a variety of secondary products—salted fish and meats, leather, etc.—without any evidence of elite involvement beyond the salt itself. By focusing their efforts on controlling salt, they inserted themselves into nearly every economic activity there.
Cite this Record
Inland, Urban vs. Coastal, Rural Salt Production in the Southern Maya Lowlands: The View from Salinas de los Nueve Cerros. Brent Woodfill. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431474)
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;
Abstract Id(s): 15207