Cooperation and Resilience at the ancient Maya site of Chan, Belize

Author(s): Anna Novotny

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Cooperative Bodies: Bioarchaeology and Non-ranked Societies" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In ancient complex societies, unique social strata had differential access to food resources and likely relied on different food procurement strategies to meet their needs. This paper explores the extent to which cooperation was part of that strategy for the ancient Maya farmers of the Chan site, located in the Belize River Valley of west-central Belize, through possible changes in diet over 1800 years. In the Late Classic period (AD 750-900), the Maya lowlands were beginning to experience an intense and prolonged drought that contributed to significant sociopolitical reorganization. Artifacts recovered from the Chan site center dating to the Late Classic period originated far beyond the Belize Valley. The Chan farmers were reaching beyond their valley home to procure resources. To more fully understand the nature of these interactions, this study investigates diet at Chan over its 1800-year history through stable isotope analysis. Changes over long timespans illustrate the extent to which Chan successfully buffered its residents against sociopolitical and environmental fluctuations through economic cooperation with communities outside the Belize Valley. Results suggest remarkable stability in diet over Chan’s deep history, which has important implications for how small-scale stakeholders negotiate large-scale environmental and social change.

Cite this Record

Cooperation and Resilience at the ancient Maya site of Chan, Belize. Anna Novotny. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450629)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 26168