5 Lectures 14, 15, and 16 MAYAN AGRICULTURE Maize was the basis of Mayan civilization. Yum Kaax , the maize god, was illustrated as a youth wear-ing maize in his headdress. Cultivation System Trees were felled and burned, and the earth was turned over with a digging stick ( f re hardened). Each person was allotted plots (land was communal property) which was hand weeded. Stalks were bent at har-vest to deter birds, grain was preserved in storage bins and underground granaries ( chultunes ) (Fig. 14-7). Water was provided from reservoirs and wells, but there was no wheel and, thus, no ef f cient way of raising water. There was no beasts of burden. The yield was deduced from present day statistics for subsistence agriculture: 12 acres/farmer = 168 bushels (14 bu = 784 lb./acre). Consumer uses of 6.6 lb./maize/year for a family of 5 plus some livestock = 43 bu/year. Thus 190 days of labor gives 125 bushel surplus. Ancient Mayans had less land per farmer but no livestock. The surplus made the building of temple cities possible. Other Mayan crops: beans, squash, pumpkin, chili pepper, sweet potato (pale), sweet cassava, chicham
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