Posted by: Johan Normark | February 21, 2012

Cave and climate change at Xcoch, Puuc region

Research lead by Nicholas Dunning and Michael Smyth at the site of Xcoch in the Puuc region, west of the Cochuah region where I work, reveals water management and climate change from the cave underlying the site. The Puuc area lacks surface water and it has few large cave systems but at Xcoch the cave penetrates the water table. The cave has been in “continuous” use from 800 BC until the 19th century. The site itself has two large reservoirs located near the monumental architecture. Xcoch was the largest site in the Puuc region during the Late Formative period. Dunning believes the site was abandoned around AD 100 because of a drought that we know of from other parts of the Maya area. It seems that the site was reoccupied around AD 300.

The pattern we have from the Cochuah region indicates a settlement dispersion to cave sites during the Late Formative, only to be reoccupied during the Terminal Classic (AD 800 and onwards). I doubt that the Xcoch cave has been in “continuous” use from more than 2700 years. For example, Helmke (2009) claims that caves actually rarely were used but that those few occasions left plenty of remains. Only on important occasions did people enter these caves to perform rituals. Decades and even centuries may have passed so that can hardly be seen as “continuous”.

Actun Xcoch

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