Sabanas and the Sea: The Yalahau’s Ecological Niches and Preclassic Populations


The Yalahau region of northern Quintana Roo, Mexico is one of the few regions in the Maya Lowlands where a robust Preclassic population was not followed by the emergence of Classic period polities. For that reason it is an important area when trying to understand the unique characteristics of the Preclassic period in the Northern Lowlands. The Yalahau region is defined physiographically by freshwater wetlands (sabanas), which stand in stark contrast the rest of the Northern Lowlands. These wetlands were utilized by Preclassic inhabitants of the region for agricultural purposes and helped support a dense Preclassic population. The wetlands are framed to the north by the Yalahau Lagoon and Holbox Island. Research by Proyecto Costa Escondida members have revealed the dynamic nature of the coastline during the Preclassic period and there seems to be a correlation between the changing nature of the coastline with the utility of the inland freshwater wetlands for the region’s inhabitants. This paper brings together paleoenvironmental and archaeology research from the wetlands and the coast to investigate how these two ecological niches created opportunities for a Preclassic florescence in the region, while subsequently playing a significant role in the region’s depopulation in the Early Classic.

Cite this Record

Sabanas and the Sea: The Yalahau’s Ecological Niches and Preclassic Populations. Jeffrey B. Glover, Dominique Rissolo, Daniel Leonard. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444267)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22219