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Environmental History of the Maya Lowlands: Ecology, Sustainability and Society from the Pleistocene to the Present

Timothy Beach, Georgetown University, Fellow 2007/08

This was a productive year at Dumbarton Oaks for several projects including my main project, a book on the environmental history of the Maya. I divided my work into the major chapters of this book and made substantial progress on each by integrating new research from the library with my own scientific findings from previous publications and with many new illustrations. I have written some of chapters 1 and 2, the introduction and background history, but focused on chapters 3–7, the guts of this book, on geology and water resources, climate, climatic change, regional ecosystems and paleoecology, soils and ethnopedology, Maya agriculture, and future environmental change and human interaction in the Maya Lowlands. The progress I have made puts me in a good position to finish research, illustrations, and writing of a full draft by January 2009.

My time at Dumbarton Oaks will also lead to a co-edited volume of the journal Geomorphology, which will also come out as a twenty-two article book on geoarchaeology. I have also edited draft chapters of my co-authored book about the environmental archaeology of the Petexbatun region of Guatemala, which will be published by Vanderbilt University Press. Two other major scientific articles and a book chapter will derive in part from the fellowship. These are on the formation, chronology, hydrology, and ancient use of Maya wetlands fields, which has been the focus of my field work since 2001.

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