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Hydraulics, Cacao, and Complex Developments at Preclassic Chocolá, Guatemala: Evidence and Implications

  • Jonathan Kaplan (a1)

Abstract

Investigations begun in 2003 and continued through 2005 at Chocolá, in Southwestern Guatemala, have determined the existence of an extensive Preclassic network of well-engineered subterranean canals. The hydraulics discovered at the site, as well as other findings, add to long-standing evidence of Preclassic developments in the site's immediate region. While I consider an impressive Preclassic hydraulic system proven for Chocolá, a similarly early industry of cacao—a high-water demand plant of pan-Mesoamerican importance and native to the region—is discussed here admittedly only as a plausible hypothesis, based on copious ethnohistoric attestation but also on the long-known but disparate evidence of a temporal priority to many developments considered key to later Classic Maya civilization that are found in the Southern Maya area.

Resumen

Las investigaciones realizadas en Chocolá, en el Suroeste Guatemalteco, dieron inicio en 2003 y continuaron hasta el 2005, determinando la existencia de un extenso sistema hidráulico de buena manufactura que consiste en canales que funcionaron tanto subterráneamente como en la superficie. Este sistema, junto a otros hallazgos aporta a la evidencia del alto y temprano desarrollo en la región inmediata de la Bocacosta. Nuestros descubrimientos parecen confirmar el importante y temprano papel del área Maya del Sur en la trayectoria Maya. El impresionante sistema hidráulico de Chocolá ha sido documentado arqueológicamente. Nuestra búsqueda de una industria preclásica del cacao permanece como una hipótesis valida, dado el potencial que aporta el sistema hidráulico como generador de desarrollos considerados esenciales para la civilización Maya Clásica, cuyos antecedentes han sido documentados en el área Maya del Sur.

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