Ancient World Week Held in Corozal NICH
July 17, 2017 the Corozal NICH open its doors to the public to attend the Second Annual Ancient World week that commenced at 1pm. The Introduction to this program for the afternoon activity was based on lecturing the public Archaeology of food Ancient Maya Dietary Patterns.
The Institute of Archaeology (NICH) and Northwestern University through the Corozal House of Culture presents Ancient World Week, July 17-20, 2017, at the House of Culture.
Workshops, lectures, and site visit.
Monday, 17th July, 1-4pm Archaeology of food Ancient Maya Dietary Patterns
Tuesday, 18th July, 1-4pm
Santa Rita Murals
Aventura, Santa Rita & Cerros Relations
Wednesday, 19th July, 1-4pm
Human Bone Analysis
New Research at Aventura
Thursday, 20th July, 1-4pm
Site Visit: Ongoing Survey & Excavation at Aventura
For more information and registration, visit the Corozal House of Culture or call 422-0071. Participation is free of cost.
|Ms Debbie Reading her speech.|
Ancient Maya cuisine was varied and extensive. Many different types of resources were consumed, including maritime, flora, and faunal material, and food was obtained or produced through a host of strategies, such as hunting, foraging, and large-scale agricultural production. Plant domestication focused on several core foods, the most important of which was maize.
Much of the Maya food supply was grown in agricultural fields and forest gardens, known as pet kot. The system takes its name from the low wall of stones (pet meaning "circular" and kot "wall of loose stones") that characteristically surrounds the gardens.
|Archaeologist Mayan History informing the Public about the Maya's.|
The Maya adopted a number of adaptive techniques that, if necessary, allowed for the clear-cutting of land and re-infused the soil with nutrients. Among these was slash-and-burn, or swidden, agriculture, a technique that cleared and temporarily fertilized the area. For example, the introduction of ash into the soil raises the soil's pH, which in turn raises the content of a variety of nutrients, especially phosphorus, for a short period of time of around two years. However, the soil will not remain suitable for planting for as many as ten years. This technique, common throughout the Maya area, is still practiced today in the Maya region. Complementing swidden techniques were crop rotation and farming, employed to maintain soil viability and increase the variety of crops.
To completely understand how and in what quantities food resources were relied upon by the Ancient Maya, stable isotopic analysis has been utilized. This method allows for the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to be chemically extracted from animal and human skeletal remains. These elements are then run through a mass spectrometer and the values display the enrichment of maize and the extent of aquatic resources in an individual's diet.
|Xunantunich Mayan site.|
Maya diet focused on four domesticated crops (staple crops): maize, squash, beans (typically Phaseolus vulgaris) and chili peppers. The first three cultivars are commonly referred to in North America as the "Three Sisters" and, when incorporated in a diet, complement one another in providing necessary nutrients. Among the three, maize was the central component of the diet of the ancient Maya, and figured prominently in Maya mythology and ideology. Archaeological evidence suggest that Chapalote-Nal-Tel was the dominant species, however it is likely others were being exploited also. Maize was used and eaten in a variety of ways, but was always nixtamalized. Nixtamalization (a term that derives from the Nahuatl word for the process) is a procedure in which maize is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution. This releases niacin, a necessary B vitamin (vitamin B3) that prevents pellagra and reduces incidents of protein deficiency.
|This was how Maya's did their housing. One for workshop, One for meeting's, one for housing, one for garbage.|
Once nixtamalized, maize was typically ground up on a metate and prepared in a number of ways. Tortillas, cooked on a comal and used to wrap other foods (meat, beans, etc.), were common and are perhaps the best-known pre-Columbian Mesoamerican food. Tamales consist of corn dough, often containing a filling, that are wrapped in a corn husk and steam-cooked. Both atole and pozole were liquid-based gruel-like dishes that were made by mixing ground maize (hominy) with water, with atole being denser and used as a drinking source and pozole having complete big grains of maize incorporated into a turkey broth. Though these dishes could be consumed plain, other ingredients were added to diversify flavor, including chili peppers, cacao, wild onions and salt.
Along with maize, beans—both domestic and wild—and squash were relied on as evident from the remains at Ceren, El Salvador, the Mesoamerican Pompeii.
|This was the maya's use to look.|
An alternative view is that manioc cassava was the easily grown staple crop of the Maya and that maize was revered because it was prestigious and harder to grow. This proposal was based on the inability of maize to meet the nutritional needs of densely populated Maya areas. Manioc can meet those needs. Because tuberous manioc rarely survives in the archaeological record, evidence for this view has been lacking, although recent finds in volcanic ash at the southern Maya site of Joya de Cerén in El Salvador may be such evidence.
Several different varieties of beans were grown, including pinto, red and black beans. The ancient Maya also relied on tree cropping for access to foods such as tomato, chili peppers, avocado, breadnut, guava, soursop, mammee apple, papaya, pineapple, pumpkin, sweet potato, and Xanthosoma. Chaya was cultivated for its green leaves. Chayote was cultivated for its fruit, and its tender green shoots were used as a vegetable. Various herbs were grown and used, including vanilla, epazote, achiote (and the annatto seed), Canella, Hoja santa (Piper auritum), avocado leaves, garlic vine, Mexican oregano, and allspice.
|Caracol found in the early 1920's.|
Ancient Maya agriculture can be divided into two types: extensive systems and intensive systems.
Extensive systems are primarily represented by milpas. This slash and burn method of farming required large tracts of available land because fields would require that they be fallowed every so many years. Intensive forms of agriculture included kitchen gardens, terrace systems, raised fields, drainage canals, tree cropping, and alluvial valley systems. Evidence for extensive hillside terracing has been discovered throughout the Vaca Plateau and Maya Mountains. Raised fields and canals have been studied in northern Belize (i.e. Pulltrouser Swamp in Orange Walk) and in the Belize River Valley (near Baking Pot). On their fields the Maya cultivated diverse crops including maize, beans, squash, amaranth, chili peppers, sweet potatoes, manioc, cotton, tobacco, and chaya. Fruit trees were also plentiful and were represented by avocado, cacao, kinep (Waya), anona (custard apple), caimito (star apple), and craboo.
To supplement their diet the ancient Maya harvested shell fish from the rivers and sea and they caught both freshwater and marine fish. They also hunted many of the small and large mammals inland. Spanish records further report that they had domesticated turkeys, dogs, possibly deer and a stingless bee which provided honey for sweetening drinks (Cacao) and other foods.
|This was used for corn when Maya's use to plant their crops.|
|Everyone gathered at the event for the first day of the Ancient World week.|