Exploring the Culture and Nature of the Maya Forest: An Alternative View of the Classic Maya
Dr. Anabel Ford, UCSB

The conventional story of the magnificent Maya civilization ends after 2,000 years with the destruction of their environment and the disappearance of the people. This myth persists despite historical accounts that disprove it. Cortes, on his march to Lake Peten Itza, describes the area as populated, feeding and housing his army and retinue of more than 3,000. Moreover, the continuous 30-century period of population development of the ancient Maya Lowlands—from the Preclassic to the Terminal Classic period, through the Colonial period and into present times—represents long-lasting continuity. The source of Maya wealth lay in their landscape and in their profound understanding of how to use it. In fact, the Maya's subtle patterns are embedded within the forest. The historical ecology of this forest is complex; to understand it means examining contemporary agroecology of traditional farming and the paleoenvironmental record of the Late Classic Maya. An overview of the Maya timeline and the chronology of the environmental record reveal the discrepancy between the growth and sophistication of the Classic period Maya and the imagined environmental destruction. While most studies of the Maya assume that the collapse of the civilization was related to deforestation caused by humans, today the Maya forest is known for its remarkable diversity and its abundance of useful plants. This forest is now considered a biodiversity hotspot and is the context for the new living museum at El Pilar featuring Archaeology Under the Canopy.

Monday, July 19 9am JST
Zoom registration: https:l/tinyurl.com/5axcd876

This event is part of a series titled “Reiterations of the Past: Reconstructions, Practices, and Places," which is made possible by a Kyushu University Progress 100 Strategic Partnership Acceleration Grant (AY2019-2021). For further information. contact Ellen Van Goethem at [email protected]