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The Paleoecology and Ancient Settlement of the Petexbatun Region, Guatemala

  • Nicholas Dunning (a1), Timothy Beach (a2) and David Rue (a3)

Abstract

The Petexbatun region has a series of upland ridges surrounded by lowland wetlands. In Preclassic times, ancient Maya peoples began colonizing the region along waterways. Although few in number, they cleared large areas of upland tropical forest for agriculture and induced significant soil erosion. Population contracted in the region during the Early Classic, and mature tropical forest growth returned. During the Late Classic, population expanded rapidly across the region, forest clearance resumed, and desirable, intensively cultivated, upland areas were divided by an elaborate wall system. Upland agriculture during the Late Classic included the use of several types of terracing that significantly checked soil erosion during this period. Considerable variation may have existed between the urban agriculture practiced in the region's three major centers—Dos Pilas, Tamarindito, and Aguateca.

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