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Early Maya Adaptive Patterns: Mid-Late Holocene Paleoenvironmental Evidence from Pacific Guatemala

  • Hector Neff (a1), Deborah M. Pearsall (a2), John G. Jones (a3), Bárbara Arroyo (a4), Shawn K. Collins (a5) and Dorothy E. Freidel (a6)...

Abstract

We summarize what is known about Archaic period occupation of southeastern Mesoamerica and Central America as background for presenting new paleoenvironmental evidence of pre-Early Formative human impacts on the landscape of Pacific coastal Guatemala. Our evidence comes from sediment cores in three locations, all of which are in the mangrove-estuary zone of the lower coast. Pollen and phytoliths from the cores document increased burning, decreased forest cover, the appearance of domesticates, and increased disturbance indicators at various times during the Archaic period, the earliest being around 3500 cal B.C. The available evidence demonstrates that shifting horticulture was an early and widespread adaptation to the southeastern Mesoamerican deciduous tropical forest and constituted the base from which later adaptations, including that of early Maya farmers, differentiated. Early Formative adaptive innovations may have been favored by shifts in return rates from various estuarine and terrestrial resources during a dry and variable interval 2000 and 1500 cal B.C.

A continuación se resume la información conocida de la ocupación del período Arcaico en el sureste de Mesoamérica y Centroamérica, como antecedente para la presentación de reciente evidencia paleoambiental del impacto humano en el paisaje de la costa del Pacífico de Guatemala antes del Formativo. Esta evidencia proviene de columnas de sedimentos recuperadas en tres lugares de la zona de manglares y esteros de la costa baja. El polen y los fitolitos encontrados en las columnas documentan un incremento en la quema, decrecimiento de la cobertura del bosque, surgimiento de plantas domesticadas y mayores indicadores de perturbaciones en varios momentos durante el período Arcaico, empezando tan temprano como hacia el 3500 cal. a.C. La evidencia disponible demuestra que la horticultura fue una temprana y extensa adaptación al bosque deciduo tropical del sureste de Mesoamérica y constituye la base de la diferenciación de las adaptaciones más tardías, incluyendo aquellas de los agricultores mayas. Las innovaciones de adaptación del Formativo Temprano pudieron verse favorecidas por los cambios en las tasas de retorno de varios de los recursos terrestres y del estero provocados por condiciones climáticas secas y variables entre los años 2000 y 1500 cal a.C.

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Early Maya Adaptive Patterns: Mid-Late Holocene Paleoenvironmental Evidence from Pacific Guatemala

  • Hector Neff (a1), Deborah M. Pearsall (a2), John G. Jones (a3), Bárbara Arroyo (a4), Shawn K. Collins (a5) and Dorothy E. Freidel (a6)...

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