Wetland research in northern Belize provides the earliest evidence for development of agriculture in the Maya Lowlands. Pollen data confirm the introduction of maize and manioc before 3000 B.C. Dramatic deforestation, beginning ca. 2500 B.C. and intensifying in wetland environments ca. 1500-1300 B.C., marks an expansion of agriculture, which occurred in the context of a mixed foraging economy. By 1000 B.C. a rise in groundwater levels led farmers to construct drainage ditches coeval with the emergence of Maya complex society ca. 1000-400 B.C. Field manipulations often involved minor modifications of natural hummocks. Canal systems are not as extensive in northern Belize as previously reported, nor is there evidence of artificially raised planting platforms. By the Classic period, wetland fields were flooded and mostly abandoned.