Here is the abstract for our upcoming Society for American Archaeology presentation in Vancouver. Written with Jennifer Chmilar, this project uses environmental data to understand human-environmental relationships in a new and highly socio-theoretical manner.
To at least some degree, all cultural groups must respond to and adapt within their surrounding environment, as was the case for the ancient Maya. The Maya area consists of various distinct ecological zones, from volcanic highlands through swampy bajos and across a dry karstic plain punctuated by wetlands, each providing distinct adaptation opportunities. Seasonal fluctuations provide further texture to the flow of each landscape. This paper explores and attempts to characterize the temporality of the ancient Maya wetland landscape of El Eden, Quintana Roo, Mexico. By temporality, we mean the unique temporal rhythms of the landscape and also social life that organized and guided the interconnected tasks vital to ancient Maya life. To do this, we use a historical ecological approach supplemented by ecological data and 3D simulations. Our theoretically driven approach allows us to reconstruct and characterize the unique seasonal rhythms found at El Eden and the corresponding tasks that uniquely developed in response to the seasonally fluctuating wetland landscape. By focusing on seasonality, temporality, and tasks, we demonstrate that life at ancient wetlands were organized in a unique manner contrasting but also complementing other modes of ecological adaptation seen in the Maya area.