• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:55 AM


LUZZADDER-BEACH, Sheryl1, BEACH, Timothy P.1, DOCTOR, Katarina Z.2, FLOOD, Jonathan M.2, HUTSON, Scott3 and TERRY, Richard E.4, (1)Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin, CLA Bldg. Rm. 3.306, A3100, 305 E. 23rd Street, Austin, TX 78712, (2)Geography and Geoinformation Science, George Mason University, 238 Research I, MSN 6C3, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444, (3)Anthropology, University of Kentucky, 211 Lafferty Hall, Lexington, KY 40506, (4)Plant and Wildlife Sciences, Brigham Young University, 275 WIDB, Provo, UT 84602,

Water supply and accessibility are often studied as factors in human settlements. However, few archaeological studies have considered the quality of those water supplies, and the opportunities and limitations the water quality may have imposed on ancient peoples’ land and water use. Although water quality mainly reflects conditions of today, often the mineralogical characteristics of water reflect the geologic conditions under which it occurs. Therefore mineral characteristics can be a proxy for expected water quality. We present two geoarchaeological case studies of water supply and quality in Ancient Maya Sites in the northern Yucatan, Mexico region. Chunchucmil was a Classic period Maya city located southwest of the modern city of Merida, just outside of the Ring of Cenotes. Uci and Cansahcab, northeast of Merida, were Classic period settlements linked together by a causeway, or sacbe, located just inside the Ring of Cenotes. Modern Maya villages are located near each site today. Both sites have limited surface water availability and intense dry seasons, and are dependent upon groundwater for their principal permanent water supply. They are also near the hydrogeologic influence of the Ring of Cenotes, which traces the edge of the Chicxulub Impact Crater of northwestern Yucatan. This research compares these two sites, and demonstrates that the ancient Maya of northern Yucatan confronted significant hydrologic challenges in addition to those encountered by the Ancient Maya of the broader Maya Lowlands Region.
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