WaPo: Ancient Maya beat heat by planting trees

KidsPost highlights UC archaeology research in ancient Maya city

The Washington Post highlighted a new study by a team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati that found the ancient Maya preserved natural vegetation around its reservoirs in the city of Tikal.

UC found that these critical sources of city drinking water were lined with trees and wild vegetation that would have provided scenic natural beauty in the heart of the busy city.

UC researchers developed a novel system to analyze ancient plant DNA in the sediment of Tikal’s temple and palace reservoirs to identify more than 30 species of trees, grasses, vines and flowering plants that lived along its banks more than 1,000 years ago. Their findings painted a picture of a lush, wild oasis.

UC geography professor Nicholas Dunning talked to the Post for its KidsPost section.

“It was quite a remarkable place, with towering temples poking up above the top of the rainforest,” Dunning told the Post.

He is a co-author of the study published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

“Almost all of the city center was paved. That would get pretty hot during the dry season,” said paleoethnobotanist David Lentz, a professor of biology in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study.

“So it would make sense that they would have places that were nice and cool right along the reservoir,” he said. “It must have been beautiful to look at with the water and trees and a welcome place for the kings and their families to go.”

Read the Washington Post story.

Featured image at top: The ancient Maya city of Tikal. Photo/Jimmy Baum/Unsplash