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Ridged Fields and Associated Features in Southern Campeche: New Perspectives on the Lowland Maya

  • Alfred H. Siemens (a1) and Dennis E. Puleston (a2)

Prehistoric ridged fields and canals were recognized from the air in 1968 along the Candelaria River of Campeche, Mexico, in the vicinity of sites described by E. Willys Andrews in 1943. These remains were subsequently identified by Scholes and Roys as the settlements of Acalan, a native province along the route of the journey by Cortes to Honduras. Ground exploration in 1969 and 1970 has suggested that the fields were used over a considerable period of time under a system of diversified horticulture. The extensive canal system apparently provided access from the rivers to firm ground and allowed shortcuts and bypasses alongside the rivers themselves. The landscape suggests a considerable prehistoric population, vigorously engaged in major public works projects over a large area. It invites further integrated investigation of its past human ecology, particularly for information on variants of basic Lowland Maya subsistence patterns and the new perspectives this may give on the structure, success and demise of this civilization. An earlier version of this paper was read at the 39th International Congress of Americanists in Lima, 1970.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
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