- New Paths into the Anthropocene: Applying Historical Ecologies to the Human Future
- Thinking Like An Archaeologist and Thinking Like an Engineer: A Utilitarian-Perspective Archaeology
- Expedience, Impermanence, and Unplanned Obsolescence: The Coming-About of Agricultural Features and Landscapes
- Just How Long Does ‘Long-Term’ Have to Be? Matters of Temporal Scale as Impediments to Interdisciplinary Understanding in Historical Ecology
- Archaeology, Historical Sciences, and Environmental Conservation
- Landscaping, Landscape Legacies, and Landesque Capital in Pre-Columbian Amazonia
- Integrating Geoarchaeology with Archaeology for Interdisciplinary Understanding of Societal–Environmental Relations
- Digging for Indigenous Knowledge: ‘Reverse Engineering’ and Stratigraphic Sequencing as a Potential Archaeological Contribution to Sustainability Assessments
- Linking the Past and Present of the Ancient Maya: Lowland Land Use, Population Distribution, and Density in the Late Classic Period
- Paleozoology Is Valuable to Conservation Biology
- Historic Molecules Connect the Past to Modern Conservation
- Community and Conservation: Documenting Millennial Scale Sustainable Resource Use at Lake Mývatn, Iceland
- Soils, Plants, and Texts: An Archaeologist’s Tool-Box
- Grappling with Interpreting and Testing People–Landscape Dynamics
- From Narratives to Algorithms: Extending Archaeological Explanation beyond Archaeology
- Growing the Ancient Maya Social-Ecological System from the Bottom Up
- Wells, Land, and History: Archaeology and Rural Development in Southern Africa
- Participatory Checking and the Temporality of Landscapes: Increasing Trust and Relevance in Qualitative Research
- Freelisting as a Tool for Assessing Cognitive Realities of Landscape Transformation: A Case Study from Amazonia
- A 1980 Attempt at Reviving Ancient Irrigation Practices in the Pacific: Rationale, Failure, and Success
- The Invisible Landscape: The Etruscan <i>Cuniculi</i> of Tuscania as a Determinant of Present-Day Landscape and a Valuable Tool for Sustainable Water Management
- The Rehabilitation of Pre-Hispanic Agricultural Infrastructure to Support Rural Development in the Peruvian Andes: The Work of the Cusichaca Trust
- Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
- Indigenous Technologies, Archaeology, and Rural Development in the Andes: Three Decades of Trials in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru
- Quality of Life and Prosperity in Ancient Households and Communities
- Applied Perspectives on Pre-Columbian Maya Water Management Systems: What are the Insights for Water Security?
- Beyond Rhetoric: Towards a Framework for an Applied Historical Ecology of Urban Planning
- Culture, Power, History: Implications for Understanding Global Environmental Change
- Energy Gain and the Evolution of Organization
- Conclusion: Anthropocentric Historical Ecology, Applied Archaeology, and the Future of a Usable Past
Abstract and Keywords
Water security is a fundamental global challenge for humanity. Suggesting that scholars, water management engineers, and policy-makers draw from a wide range of examples, this chapter argues that knowledge gained from archaeological research provides unique insights into the long-term function and efficacy of water management systems. This chapter presents six cases of water management systems in the pre-Columbian Maya lowlands, from the Yalahau, Puuc-Nohkakab, Petén Karst Plateau, and Belize River Valley subregions, that demonstrate significant variation; a product of the interplay between social, political, and economic factors and hydrological regimes. The analysis suggests four insights relevant for current water security concerns: (1) water management systems are characterized by a diversity of solutions, (2) water scarcity promotes increased management investments that result in long-term vulnerability, (3) water abundance does not require complex management systems but increases the risk for mismanagement, and (4) institutional and technological diversity provide flexibility and greater security.
Christian Isendahl (Ph.D., Uppsala University, 2002) is Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He is interested in issues of sustainability, vulnerability, and resilience and applies a historical ecological lens to study urbanism, farming systems, water management, and socio-political organization in the past, particularly in the Maya lowlands, the Andes, and the Amazon. He has a strong interest in exploring, discussing, and detailing how archaeological research can generate knowledge about the past and about long-term processes that provide practical insights for addressing contemporary challenges. He is a member of the scientific steering committee of the ‘Integrated History and Future of People on Earth’ (IHOPE) project.
Vernon L. Scarborough is Distinguished University Research Professor and Charles Phelps Taft Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Cincinnati. His work emphasizes sustainability and global water systems. By examining past engineered landscapes, he addresses both ancient and contemporary societal issues from a comparative ecological and transdisciplinary perspective. Geographically, his published work includes studies about the U.S. Southwest, Belize, Guatemala, Indonesia, Greece, Pakistan, and Sudan. He has published nine books—including seven edited volumes (one more in press)—and over 100 book chapters and journal articles, the latter inclusive of Science, PNAS, and American Antiquity. His most recent field work is at Tikal, Guatemala and Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Joel D. Gunn is an environmental anthropologist who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research engages issues such as complex adaptive systems and the origins, rise and demise of civilizations, and settlement patterns. Although currently focused on the Maya lowlands, Joel’s studies span the continental land masses that fall under the climatic influence of the Bermuda–Azores subtropical high: the Maya lowlands, southeastern United States, and southwestern Europe.
Nicholas P. Dunning is a Professor of Geography at the University of Cincinnati. He is a geoarchaeologist and cultural ecologist specializing in the Neotropics. He has published several books and more than 120 articles and book chapters.
Scott L. Fedick is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology with the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Riverside, and he is currently a Visiting Scholar with the Department of Anthropology at Rhode Island College. His research specialty is ancient Maya agriculture and resource use. He has over 35 years of archaeological field experience in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, and has served since 1993 as Project Director for the Yalahau Regional Human Ecology Project in northern Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Gyles Iannone is a Professor in the Anthropology Department at Trent University. His degrees were earned at Simon Fraser University (B.A.), Trent University (M.A.), and University College London (Ph.D.). An anthropological archaeologist, Professor Iannone's main areas of interest include: Archaeology, Resilience Theory, Settlement Archaeology, Early Tropical State Formations, Mesoamerica (especially Maya), and South and Southeast Asia (especially Myanmar and Cambodia). He conducted archaeological excavations in Belize for 24 field seasons (1991-2013), and is currently the Director of the ‘Socio-Ecological Entanglement in Tropical Societies’ (SETS) project, and the ‘Integrated Socio-Ecological History of Residential Patterning, Agricultural Practices, and Water Management at the “Classical” Burmese (Bama) Capital of Bagan, Myanmar (11th to 14th Century CE)’ project (IRAW@Bagan).
Lisa J. Lucero (Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1994) is a Fellow of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and a Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her interests focus on political power, ritual, water management, the impact of climate change, sustainability in the tropics, and the Classic Maya. Her most recent project focuses on the intersection of climate change and sustainability and cosmologies of conservation. She is one of the authors of the American Anthropological Association Climate Change Task Force Report, Changing the Atmosphere: Anthropology and Climate Change (2015). She was elected as President of the Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association (2017-2019) where her goal is to insert archaeology into the international dialogue on climate change.
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