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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The ancient Maya are known to have relied heavily on maize horticulture. In spite of the fact that maize was responsible for both the ideological and physical survival of the Maya, there was significant variability in the degree to which it was consumed. In this chapter, direct evidence of food consumption provided by the stable isotope composition of carbon and nitrogen is reviewed in terms of variability that existed across time, space, and social variables. Relationships between diet and significant temporal developments such as agricultural intensification, the collapse of Classic Maya society, and the Spanish conquest are examined, along with the use of diet to reconstruct political economies, gender, and status differentiation.

Keywords: regional environments, horticulture, maize, intensification, social differences, culture change

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