Ancient Maya Diet, Environment, Animal Use and Exchange at El Mirador: The Zooarchaeological Evidence

Author(s): Erin Thornton; Richard Hansen; Edgar Suyuc-Ley

Year: 2018


The site of El Mirador (Petén, Guatemala) is among the largest Preclassic settlements in the Maya lowlands. The site has attracted attention due to its size and antiquity, but also for its location within a region containing few permanent or perennial water sources. This study summarizes current zooarchaeological evidence from the site to assess past diet, habitat use, environment, and exchange. Comparative analysis demonstrates that the inhabitants of El Mirador conformed to certain widespread Preclassic dietary and animal use traditions. However, other animal use patterns are unique to the site, including on-site rearing of domestic turkeys, which was not conducted on a similar scale elsewhere in the Maya lowlands until the Postclassic (post-AD 1000). Inter-site comparisons of Preclassic animal use also reveal greater reliance on terrestrial fauna at El Mirador despite the presence of extensive wetland habitats near the site. Although a large portion of the El Mirador faunal remains date to the Late Preclassic (350 BC-AD 150), remains associated with a Late/Terminal Classic (AD 600-900) re-settlement provides an additional opportunity to address diachronic variation in animal use, and how the local environment changed or recovered after nearly 500 years of human abandonment.

Cite this Record

Ancient Maya Diet, Environment, Animal Use and Exchange at El Mirador: The Zooarchaeological Evidence. Erin Thornton, Richard Hansen, Edgar Suyuc-Ley. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442613)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22290