Cynthia Robin

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Northwestern U.

Grant number

Gr. 10083

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Robin, Cynthia (Northwestern U.) "Human-Environment Relationships and Urban Longevity at Aventura, Belize"

CYNTHIA ROBIN, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded funding in April 2021 to aid research on “Human-Environment Relationships and Urban Longevity at Aventura, Belize. This archaeological study sought to identify human-environment relationships that enable a community to survive, and even thrive, during periods of climatic and societal stress. Investigations focused on the analysis of plant, animal, and human remains to reconstruct the ancient environment (forest, habitat, and biodiversity), food sources, and the distribution of food and environmental resources. Research studied the ancient Maya city of Aventura in Belize, Central America which has an over two millennia history and was a home to Maya communities during periods of political and environmental stress. Research results indicate that urban agroforestry practices that promote forest diversity, forest management, and develop a “garden in a forest” urban environment that situates urbanism within partially forested landscapes promotes human-environmental resilience. Aventura was a socially stratified city where commoner and elite residents lived in households of varying size and elaboration. However, research into the distribution of food and environmental resources across status groups at Aventura found that commoners and elites had comparable access to food and resources. The key findings of this research suggest that maintaining biodiversity, promoting urban forms that work in tandem with the natural environment, and developing more equitable resource distributions, promote sustainable relationships between urbanism and the environment.