Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationStanford U.
Grant numberGr. 9537
Approve DateOctober 11, 2017
Project TitleGrauer, Kacey C., Northwestern U., Evanston, IL - To aid research on 'Human-Water Relationships during Drought at Aventura, Belize,' supervised by Dr. Cynthia Robin
KACEY GRAUER, then a graduate student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded funding in October 2017 to aid research on “Human-Water Relationships during Drought at Aventura, Belize,” supervised by Dr. Cynthia Robin. This project examined the relationships between humans and water during drought at the ancient Maya city of Aventura, Belize. Aventura’s heyday was from 750-1100 CE, a time of severe regional drought. This project employed archaeological excavation and paleoenvironment reconstruction through microbotanical analysis to investigate water management features within the city. Excavations and microbotanical analysis revealed that the water management features in the city contained standing water when the drought was at its peak, and eroded in and dried up relatively recently. Excavations on the edge of the water management features indicate they were being modified by humans before the onset of drought, suggesting humans were being proactive and not reactive to changing environments. Additionally, excavations provided evidence of ritual activity, particularly ancestor veneration, indicating these water management features were as important for their social aspects as their ability to provide water for biophysical needs. These water management strategies employed by people at Aventura occurred in the context of relational ontologies that did not drive a hard wedge in between humans and the environment and instead integrated all aspects of cosmology in to one life world. The findings from this project indicate relational ontologies were beneficial during episodes of drought.