It might seem an obvious point, but a 2004 report by Anabel Ford, a UCSB anthropologist wroking at the site of El Pilar, confirmed that Yucatan’s ecosystem “bears the evidence of manipulation.” Plants are spread more uniformly that would be the the case in an unmanipulated ecosystem. Many of the “jungle” plants are cultivated species that have gone feral. Says Christine Hastorf, an archaeology professor at Berkeley: “That isn’t the forest that was there before humans landed in the Americas.”
An excerpt from the report:
Plants are nurtured for medicine, ornaments, food, spices, dyes, poisons, construction, household products, toys, beverages, rituals, fodder and many more household needs. These forest gardens may at first look more like a compost heap and untamed jungle, but as you spend time with the farmers, you come to understand the management strategies and the alliance that actively engages in the verdant environment. While plants introduced over the past 500 years influence these contemporary gardens, more than 90% of the native forest oligarchy is nurtured in the traditional forest garden suggesting that the structure of the forest and the forest garden is much the same.
Shown: Forest at the ancient Maya site of Coba