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SaltWhite Gold of the Ancient Maya$
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Heather McKillop

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780813025117

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813025117.001.0001

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Salt Production and Sea-Level Rise

Salt Production and Sea-Level Rise

(p.135) 5 Salt Production and Sea-Level Rise

Heather Mckillop

University Press of Florida

This chapter examines the impact of the rise of the sea-level on the civilization especially on the salt production and salt works of Punta Ycacos during the Late Classic Maya period. The discovery and excavation of ten inundated sites that date back to the Classic period in the Port Honduras region suggest and document the Holocene sea-level rise. The production of salt in Punta Ycacos occurred in relation to the surge of settlement in the Port Honduras region and in the inland region of southern Belize during the Late Classic Maya period. However, the collapse of the southern Maya civilization and the abandonment of inland cities in southern Belize and Pasion led to the decline of demand for Punta Ycacos salt. The rising seas which submerged the salt workshops led to the abandonment of Punta Ycacos salt production sites. The sea level played an important role in the Mayan civilization as the level of the sea determined the availability of resources and habitable land for the ancient coastal areas of the Mayan civilization. Although the rise of sea-level cannot be pinpointed as the sole rationale behind the abandonment of the Punta Ycacos salt shops as the extinction of the coastal towns of Port Honduras and the Punta Ycacos salt shops were the result of the complex interplay between cultural and environmental factors, the sea-level at some point did obviate the use of the Punta Ycacos shops during the Postclassic period.

Keywords:   sea level, salt production, Punta Ycacos, Classic Maya period, Port Honduras, southern Belize, rising seas, ancient coastal areas

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