Beneath the roots of the chukum tree: a preliminary soil analysis of the Chunchucmil region

P. Farrell, T. Beach, B. Dahlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Located in the northeast Yucatan Peninsula, Chunchucmil was a major, densely populated Maya center during the Late Classic Period. The high population density of this site remains a mystery in light of the apparently low agricultural potential of its setting. This area today is extremely dry and the surface is covered by vast outcroppings of limestone with thin and meager soil cover. Possible answers to the Chunchucmil paradox are: Chunchucmil agriculturalists used agricultural intensification techniques to increase production; and Chunchucmil was involved in regional trade of coastal resources (such as salt) for food. Understanding the settlement pattern, site boundaries, and subsistence base of Chunchucmil requires extensive mapping of the settlement, including a systematic soil survey. As a precursor to an extensive program of research, we conducted a preliminary soil and environmental survey in 1994. This paper presents the results of that analysis, considers alternative agricultural practices, and suggests the direction of future research at the site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
JournalYearbook - Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers
StatePublished - 1996


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