University of Cincinnati research is investigating why a highly sophisticated civilization decided to build large, bustling cities next to what is essentially swampland.
The research by UC Geography Professor Nicholas Dunning, a three-year, interdisciplinary project including David Lentz, professor of biological sciences, and Vern Scarborough, professor of anthropology, will be presented April 1 at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, Calif. This annual meeting draws more than 3,000 researchers from around the world to present research covering a wide range of topics and time periods.
Dunning’s research zeroes in on why larger and successful Maya communities were located along the edges of the massive wetlands of Tikal.
Supported by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner Gren Foundation, the UC researchers are exploring different aspects of the ancient Maya in one of the premier cities of the ancient Maya world, Tikal, located in northern Guatemala. It’s a region where architecture – pyramids, palaces and temples dating as far back as the fourth century B.C.– are still standing in tribute to this ancient, sophisticated, Native American society that largely disintegrated around 900 A.D. Their demise has remained a mystery for centuries.
Located near the southwestern margin of the Bajo de Sante Fe, it’s also a challenging region to conduct research. “It doesn’t take a lot of rain to make it impossible to get in and out of the bajos. They’re seasonal swamps. The mud gets deep very quickly,” explains Dunning.
But the researchers have found that when the Maya started building their cities adjacent to these wetlands, they were different environments than what exist now, Dunning says. Portions of the area where UC researchers are working once may have been a shallow lake and perennial wetlands from which early populations extracted organic, peat moss-like soil to help sustain nearby fields where the Maya were primarily farming maize. Over the years, the farming-on-the-edge practice on sloping land led to soil erosion that resulted in creating aprons of deep, rich soil along the interface between the uplands and the swamps.
“We have good evidence from Tikal and other sites in this region that these areas became the focal point where agriculture occurred in the Classic Period, where these anthropogenic soils were created at the base of the slopes,” Dunning says.
In regard to the edge farming, the researchers studied the soil and found significant amounts of pollen, which would indicate a significant amount of maize was produced. In addition, the organic matter produced from the corn was reflected in the soil’s composition.
The UC research was a joint project with Instituto de Antropología e Historía (de Guatemala) – IDEAH – under the Guatemalan government. Lentz and Scarborough will also be presenting findings related to their fields – regarding the Maya’s advances in forestry and water management – at the conference.
Dunning has been conducting research related to the geography of Guatemala since 1991. “One of the fascinating aspects of archaeology is that in reconstructing entire civilizations, one can’t understand how an ancient civilization worked from just one perspective, so it naturally lends itself to interdisciplinary work,” he says.
Additional authors and researchers on Dunning’s presentation are Robert Griffin, Penn State University, John G. Jones, Washington State University, Christopher Carr, a UC doctoral student in the geography program and Kevin Magee, who recently completed his PhD in the UC geography program.
A new method for the 3-D printing of living tissues
16.08.2017 | University of Oxford
Bergamotene - alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences