Paper No. 224-8
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM
THE HYDROLOGY AND HYDROGEOLOGY OF THE ANCIENT MAYA: YUCATÁN MEXICO, NORTHERN BELIZE, AND PETÉN GUATEMALA
Water is essential to human settlement, health, industry, and food security. Not only is water supply essential, water quality make a critical difference in water resources uses. Watershed and aquifer conditions contribute to the character of water resources. Studying land and water resources use patterns of the Ancient Maya gives us insights into how water resources challenges and opportunities are handled in the broader Maya Lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula. Water challenges vary with location, from deep access to groundwater in the Elevated Interior Region, to sea water intrusion and interaction with aquifers and wetlands in coastal zones. We present hydro-geoarchaeological research from three regions of the ancient Maya Lowlands, from northwestern Yucatán Mexico, to the northern Petén of Guatemala, to northern Belize. Despite general association with the limestone Yucatan Platform, all regions exhibit broad variations in water access and quality, which played a role in the challenges, resilience, and shifts of Ancient Maya society, who in turn impacted and engineered the hydrologic landscape in no small way. Understanding these coupled tropical hydrologic and human systems will help us to meet challenges of long-term environmental change and human impacts in the future.