This study evaluates the importance of rejolladas to the Ancient Maya in and around the Classic Maya center of Xuenkal, Yucatán State, Mexico. Rejolladas are collapse sinkholes with bases above the local water table. We present a spatial and physical analysis of 186 rejolladas in a 10 × 10 km area centered on Xuenkal. Basal diameters range from ∼22 to 264 m, areas range from 0.04 to 5.48 ha, and depths range from 4 to 12 m. Spatial density ranges from 0 to 8 rejolladas/km2 with higher densities coinciding with known Ancient Maya settlements. Within Xuenkal, residential groups tend to be organized around and focused on the rejolladas. Some rejolladas have modified slopes that may be remnants of terraces or entry paths. High-resolution satellite imagery analysis demonstrates that rejolladas have denser and healthier vegetation than the surrounding landscape especially in the dry season. Microclimate data demonstrate that the bottom of rejolladas has less extreme diurnal temperature ranges, lower daytime highs, higher atmospheric moisture, and significantly higher and more stable soil moisture. Based on the archaeology at Xuenkal, it appears that the Ancient Maya recognized and actively exploited these environmental microniches for intensive cultivation both locally and regionally.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)