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Reconstructing Ancient Maya Diet
     

Reconstructing Ancient Maya Diet

by Christine White
 

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The collapse of classic Maya civilization at the end of the eighth century A.D. is still an enigma, but the story behind it is likely more than a clash of warring city-states. New research indicates that ecological degradation and nutritional deficiency may be as important to our understanding of Maya cultural processes as deciphering the rise and fall of kings.

Overview

The collapse of classic Maya civilization at the end of the eighth century A.D. is still an enigma, but the story behind it is likely more than a clash of warring city-states. New research indicates that ecological degradation and nutritional deficiency may be as important to our understanding of Maya cultural processes as deciphering the rise and fall of kings.

Reconstructing Ancient Maya Diet integrates recent data from bone-chemistry research, paleopathology, paleobotany, zooarchaeology, and ethnobotany to show what the ancient Maya actually ate at various periods (as opposed to archaeological suppositions) and how it affected the quality of their lives. It is now evident that to feed a burgeoning population the Maya relied on increasingly intensive forms of agriculture.

Exploring the relationship between these practices, ecological degradation, and social collapse, this book uses dietary data to investigate the rise of agricultural systems and class structure; the characterization of social relationships along lines of gender and age (i.e., who ate what); and the later effects of the Spanish conquest on diet and extant modes of agriculture.

Maya subsistence has been investigated intensively for the past two decades, but this is the first volume that unites work across the spectrum of Maya bioarchaeology.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“An exemplar of multidisciplinary research.... This volume shows how much can be gleaned through a holistic approach to dietary reconstruction.”—International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

 

“White argues that this volume is a starting point for additional investigations on food behavior and food as a metaphor for culture. It is, indeed, an impressive beginning.”—Journal of Anthropological Research

 

“The chapters in this edited volume are very valuable contributions to studies of ancient Maya nutrition.”—Latin American Antiquity

 

“White has the strong editorial vision it takes to make a volume like this cohere and sum to a whole greater than its parts.... This is a fine example of the value of exploring multiple lines of evidence that should be of interest to anyone who appreciates a multidimensional approach to archaeological problem solving.”—American Journal of Human Biology
 

Booknews
In light of recently discovered population centers of pre-colonial Maya that could not have been sustained by the slash-and-burn agriculture which most anthropologists believe was the dominant method of food production for the culture, the editors of this volume view the analysis of the Maya diet as particularly important for understanding the pre-Columbian population. They present 12 papers that discuss evidence from the fields of faunal and botanical analysis, paleopathology, and bone chemistry. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607811800
Publisher:
University of Utah Press
Publication date:
03/01/2012
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Christine White is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Western Ontario.

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