The Social Dynamics of Ceren's Household Gardens

Author(s): Venicia Slotten; David Lentz

Year: 2018


The Late Classic Maya village of Joya de Ceren’s extraordinary preservation by the Loma Caldera eruption allows for a unique opportunity to not only understand what plant species the ancient inhabitants utilized in their daily lives but also how the cultivation of these plants shaped the social and economic environment. While Cerén has spectacular preservation of extensive outfields of maize, manioc, and numerous weedy species, this paper will focus on the cultivated spaces surrounding the various structures uncovered at the site. Various fruit trees, annual and root crops, fibrous and other useful plants were chosen to be cultivated within the village center. The assorted array of economically useful species reveals the diversification of foodstuffs readily accessible to the inhabitants on a daily basis that weren’t just the annual crops planted within the outfields. The gardens further created a distinction between village members and households with various roles and positions implied by what flora each household prioritized as their preferred nearby resources. Additionally, the gardens show the incorporation of plant-derived materials into the political economy of the region. The long history of paleoethnobotanical research at the site allows for a deeper study of the social meanings behind Mesoamerican kitchen gardens.

Cite this Record

The Social Dynamics of Ceren's Household Gardens. Venicia Slotten, David Lentz. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444857)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21117