Ancient Maya by Sue Bradford Edwards

By Sue Bradford Edwards

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This raised the fields further and also fertilized the soil. No matter where they grew their crops, one more challenge remained: moving the food from the fields into the Maya cities. URBAN AGRICULTURE When artists draw Maya cities, they show plazas surrounded by temples and palaces. Through recent finds, archaeologists know that beyond the central plazas, the smaller plazas often lay some distance apart, surrounded by individual homes and gardens. Each of these smaller plazas was built on a small platform of limestone rock, boulders, and debris.

The terraces kept rain from running rapidly downhill and eroding the soil. indd 37 10/23/14 10:32 AM Archaeologists also found evidence of raised fields. In areas that would be too wet to farm, the Maya dug canals that drained the water away. The fill from digging these canals was used to raise the fields. Farmers scooped soil and other material, Bones and Teeth Archaeologists discovered that people in Copán farmed the hillsides from approximately 650 to 750 CE before returning to the old practice of only farming in the valley.

Many of these carvings depict scenes from the lives of kings, including coronations and wartime victories. The vast majority of these carvings are found on stelae. indd 28 10/23/14 10:32 AM THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER Maya craftsmen put considerable effort into their carvings, but a more mundane task took just as much of their attention. Ensuring a steady supply of water for their people was a top priority for Maya engineers. The land on which the Maya built their cities and farms contained huge amounts of limestone.

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