War and food production at the postclassic maya city of Mayapán

Douglas J. Kennett, Marilyn A. Masson, Stanley Serafin, Brendan J. Culleton, Carlos Peraza Lope

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


Our stable isotope study of well-dated human skeletal material indicates dietary stability in the Mayapan population between 1200 and 1400 C.E. The importance of maize as a staple food is confirmed as part of a diet rich in terrestrial meats, an observation consistent with existing faunal records from the city. There were no detectable dietary differences between men and women and only subtle differences between elite and non-elite individuals. Carbon isotopic enrichment in commoners is indicative of more narrow maize-focused diets. Sacrificed individuals are indistinguishable from commoners during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. More negative carbon isotopes in higher-status individuals suggest more varied diets consistent with the greater diversity of animal species represented in the elite sectors of the city. The relatively small magnitude of the differences in isotope ratios between commoners and elites, however, stands in contrast to the large differences reported for a number of Classic period sites, including Altar de Sacrificios (Wright 1997), Altun Ha (White, Pendergast et al. 2001), Caracol (Chase et al. 2001), Chau Hiix (Metcalfe et al. 2009), Colha (White et al. 2001, Dos Pilas (Wright 1997), Lamanai (White and Schwarcz 1989), and Pacbitun (White et al. 1993), and corroborates the lack of marked status-based dietary differences in other Postclassic samples (Metcalfe et al. 2009; Williams et al. 2009).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Archaeology of Food and Warfare
Subtitle of host publicationFood Insecurity in Prehistory
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9783319185064
ISBN (Print)9783319185057
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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