Discover: How ancient Maya practiced sustainable agriculture

Magazine highlights UC's new discoveries about ancient Maya

Discover Magazine highlighted work by the University of Cincinnati that suggests the ancient Maya practiced sustainable forestry and agriculture.

UC researchers used genetic and pollen analyses to provide the most detailed examination to date of the wild and cultivated plants found in the ancient Maya city Yaxnohcah, which was occupied between 1,800 and 3,000 years ago in what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

UC College of Arts and Sciences paleo-ecologist David Lentz told Discover Magazine that the ancient Maya managed their crops and forests in a way that showed consideration for the future.

“Everything the Maya used is still there, and still there in abundance,” Lentz told Discover.

A multidisciplinary team of biologists, anthropologists, geneticists and geographers collected and analyzed 38 soil samples, finding evidence of wild trees and plants growing near the city. The research suggests the ancient Maya left much of the rainforest intact.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Read the Discover Magazine story.

Two researchers work at an archaeological site.

UC professors David Lentz and Nicholas Dunning work at an ancient Maya site at Yaxnohcah. Photo/Provided