Various criteria or lines of evidence have been used to identify ancient Maya marketplaces, including location near trade routes, artifactual evidence of trade, open space adjacent to transportation routes, proximity to public structures, low platforms and rock alignments to denote market spaces, and regular patterns in soil and floor chemical concentrations. Seibal and Mayapán were important economic Maya polities controlling the trade routes at the apex of their civilizations. The objectives of these studies were to apply geochemical and geospatial analyses of the soils and floors from public plazas and household patios, to discover the anthropogenic chemical residues of phosphorus (P) and heavy metals associated with the trade of foodstuffs and workshop items that may have been marketed there. Public access, causeways, reservoirs and a pattern of high P and metal concentrations are consistent with marketing of organic foodstuffs and workshop items within suspected marketplaces of each site. In contrast, geochemical patterns of the soils and floors of household structures are consistent with ceremonial and household activities.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Bair, Daniel Aaron, "The Dirt on the Ancient Maya: Soil Chemical Investigations of Ancient Maya Marketplaces" (2010). All Theses and Dissertations. 2121.
phosphorus, trace metals, geochemical analysis, geoarchaeology