Origins, functions, and social setting by Nicolaus Seefeld. Paperback; 205x290mm; xxii+518 pages, 21 folded pull-outs; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white (183 colour plates). 440 2018 Archaeopress Pre-Columbian Archaeology . Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784919290. Epublication ISBN 9781784919306. |
Since the inception of Maya studies, the issue of water supply in Classic Maya society has been a matter of controversial debate. Due to the annually recurring dry seasons the availability of water during this period is and has always been problematic. In the light of these conditions, the fact that the pre-Hispanic Maya were able to establish, developed and maintain prosperous urban centres over long periods is hard to explain.
In order to resolve this open issue, this book aims to explain the water management strategies of the Maya in pre-Hispanic times. To this end, this volume analyses the intricate relationship between the natural environment and the adaptation strategies of the pre-Hispanic population, whose physical remains were documented in the form of hydraulic features. A large section of this book discusses the different forms, functions, and the geographic distribution of the published hydraulic features. The main body of this monograph focuses on the archaeological investigation of the hydraulic system of Uxul, a medium-sized Maya centre in the south of the state of Campeche, Mexico. As many open research questions could be addressed and studied in this site, the hydraulic system of Uxul acted as a central point of reference for the evaluation of the socio-political relevance of water management in the Maya Lowlands. This book identifies both the natural causes for water scarcities and the cultural adaptation strategies that were designed to overcome them. Due to this comprehensive approach, the present book is the most extensive and exhaustive account on the hydraulic features of the Maya Lowlands and thus enables representative statements on the sociopolitical relevance of water management in Classic Maya society.
About the Author
Nicolaus Seefeld is an archaeologist who specializes in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica with a focus on the ancient Maya. He has participated in archaeological investigations at several Maya sites in Mexico and Guatemala. Since 2008, his research has focused on the water management practices and the agricultural production of the Classic Maya. He holds an MA and a doctorate from the University of Bonn.
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'This publication offers a fresh look at the study of water management among the pre-Hispanic Maya... and helps us to understand the underlying problems of the Yucatán Peninsula and how the pre-Hispanic population developed various strategies for the management of rainwater. The publication is commended both for its academic content and good images (more than 260, many of them in colour) as well as its printing quality. The volume contains an extensive discussion and summary of the history of research related to the management of water and land in pre-Hispanic times.'
—Antonio Benavides Castillo, Estudios de Cultura Maya 54, August 2019
'In sum, this large volume of 517 pages provides a unique synthesis that many will find useful. Indeed, Seefeld’s book constitutes the best comprehensive study of ancient Maya water management available at this time, with no comparable work out there. The book is a very valuable addition to a Mayanist’s library because of everything it brings together on the topic of ancient Maya water management. Scholars working in water management in other regions of the world will also find a very good place to start here if they intend to look at the Maya case.'
—Thomas Ruhl and Nicholas P. Dunning, Latin American Antiquity Vol. 30, No. 3, September 2019
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