Ancient Mayan Marketplace Discovered

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Chemical residues found in soil from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula indicate that ancient Mayans traded food in marketplaces, a practice long considered unlikely by archaeologists.

From examining the sites of ancient Mayan cities, archaeologists have long recognized that the cities were home to more people than the local agricultural capacities could have supported, said Shepherd University archaeologist Bruce Dahlin, who led the new study of the Yucatan soil.

So for years, archaeologists looked for evidence of advanced farming practices that could have ramped up agricultural capacities beyond what archaeologists can observe, thus sustaining the populations. The idea that Mayans might have imported food and other goods wasn't taken seriously because most archaeologists thought that the Maya elite had a system whereby underlings were paid for loyalty by goods passed down the social ladder.

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