Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationMichigan, Ann Arbor, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9332
Approve DateOctober 5, 2016
Project TitleFisher, Chelsea Rose, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Early Maya Land-Use Practices and the Creation of Community at Tzacauil, Yucatan, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Joyce Marcus
CHELSEA FISHER, then a graduate student at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was awarded a grant in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Early Maya Land-Use Practices and the Creation of Community at Tzacauil, Yucatan, Mexico,’ supervised by Dr. Joyce Marcus. This project investigated the origins of Maya urban agriculture at the archaeological site of Tzacauil, Yucat’n, Mexico. As modern cities seek to become ‘greener’ through urban agriculture, past urban agricultural societies like the Maya have the potential to teach important lessons — but only if anthropological archaeologists are able to understand their long-term social and ecological histories. This project examined how early Maya farming households developed and organized the land-use practices that foreshadow later urban agriculture through investigations of Tzacauil, a small farming village settled during the transition to full-time agriculture in the Maya lowlands. The grantee organized an intensive survey of Tzacauil’s landscape alongside six members of the modern Maya community of Yaxunah to document and understand the site’s ecology. The grantee then directed excavations in the open areas around Tzacauil’s ancient houses to determine if and how these areas were cultivated. Chemical analyses of soil and ceramic samples were conducted to provide additional clues to early land-use strategies. The ongoing analysis of the data collected with Wenner-Gren’s support will contribute to anthropological understanding of ancient urban agriculture, the social history of agrarian change, and long-term human-environment interactions in the Maya area.