Ecological and Paleoethnobotanical Research at the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project


Archaeological research requires interdisciplinary scholarship to answer broad questions relating to resilience, social complexity, climate, and environmental impacts in Mesoamerica throughout ancient Maya times and into the present. RBCMA, PfBAP, plant ecology, and paleoethnobotany have provided a platform to reconstruct ancient Maya landscapes, which delves into the nuances of human-environmental relationships in northwestern Belize. Ecological studies of the impacts of ancient Maya on soils, and studies on present soil-tree species relationships, suggest that the ancient Maya have greatly affected the present distribution and abundance of tree species. The present heterogeneity of soil characteristics over the landscape also suggests the opportunities the ancient Maya had for varied agriculture. Paleoethnobotanical studies at PfBAP have demonstrated that it is possible to recover preserved archaeological plant remains from harsh tropical conditions and that these types of studies hold the potential to advance understanding of ancient Maya agriculture and land use beyond simple maize, bean, and squash subsistence strategies. This paper is a synthesis of research on the articulation among botany, ecology, and human populations at the RBCMA over the last 25 years, as well as of current and future research projects.

Cite this Record

Ecological and Paleoethnobotanical Research at the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project. Thomas Hart, Luisa Aebersold, Nicholas Brokaw, Sheila Ward. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431529)


Geographic Keywords
Central America

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14603