Linking Past and Present: A preliminary paleoethnobotanical study of Maya nutritional and medicinal plant use and sustainable cultivation in the Southern Maya Mountains, Belize

Marc A. Abramiuk, Peter S. Dunham, Linda Scott Cummings, Chad Yost, Todd J Pesek


Paleoethnobotanical analysis of anthropogenic soils sampled from archaeological features dating to the Classic Maya Period (A.D. 250-900) reveal diagnostic phytoliths that help the authors bring to light evidence of a novel sustainable agricultural strategy and a variety of nutritional and medicinal plants that were utilized by the Classic Maya of the Maya Mountains, Belize, Central America.  Given the archaeological context of these phytoliths, the authors infer that the plants from which they were derived were exploited by the Classic Maya of the region.  These discoveries have the potential for improving health and wellness regionally in the present since the agricultural strategy that is reconstructed demonstrates an intensive means of cultivation that has the potential of sustaining large, dense populations.  The nutritional and medicinal plants eluded to, in turn, provide further evidence in support of the utilization of traditional knowledge in sustaining community health and wellness.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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