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6176 - Bioarchaeological investigation of the health effects of ancient Maya urbanism in northwest Yucatan, Mexico

This paper compares living conditions in diverse urban settings in northwest Yucatan dating from the Early Classic (A.D. 300 – 600) through the Postclassic (A.D. 1000 – 1542) periods. Diet, health and lifestyle are reconstructed through analysis of human skeletal remains from the urban centers and suburban fringes of Classic period Oxkintok, Chunchucmil and sites near present-day Merida. Skeletal remains are also analyzed from diverse sectors of the Postclassic period site of Mayapan, one of the most densely populated cities in Maya history. The Mayapan skeletal series is currently the largest available for this time period. Questions addressed include: 1) what were the subsistence bases of urban and suburban populations in this region and how did they change over time, 2) how did lifestyle differ between urban and suburban populations, and 3) did greater population aggregation lead to a deterioration of health. This paper improves our understanding of geographic and temporal variation in Maya urbanism and the repercussions of this variation on diet, health and lifestyle.

Keywords: Maya, urbanism, health, diet, Bioarchaeology

Author: Serafin, Stanley (Macquarie University and the University of New South Wales, Australia / Australien)
Co-Author: Carlos Peraza Lope (Centro INAH Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico / Mexiko); Eunice Uc González (Centro INAH Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico / Mexiko)

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