Investigating Ancient Maya Agricultural Adaptation through Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Analysis of Karst Terrain , Northern Yucat án, Mexico
Mandy J. Munro -Stasiuk & T. Kam Manahan - (39/1,2010)
Landscape adaptation on the Northern Yucatán Peninsula,
Mexico, is particularly difficult, as soils are thin and the terrain
is devoid of any surface water other than the occasional sinkhole
(cenote) that connects directly to the groundwater system.
Despite this, ancient Maya cities, including Xuenkal, emerged
and thrived, likely because of their proximity to natural sinkholes.
In the case of Xuenkal, these sinkholes, known locally as
rejolladas, have bases above the local water table and, as such,
do not provide direct access to the underlying water, but they
provide closer access. Recognizing that the presence of rejolladas
was likely important to the ancient Maya the purpose of
this study is to characterize the rejolladas in terms of their subsurface
characteristics, specifically bedrock configuration and
soil. Ground penetrating radar analysis, as well as the results of
a test pit excavation, confirm the presence of deep soils in the
rejollada bases. It seems that the smaller deeper rejolladas have
the thickest soils and sediment. The ancient city of Xuenkal is
constructed amidst a particularly dense cluster of rejolladas
which may have contributed to its location. Rejolladas, containing
significantly thicker soils than the surrounding karst surface,
and the ability to sustain dense healthy vegetation would
have been particularly desirable for the Maya to capitalize on.