The Maya existed in large population throughout
Guatemala, Belize, and the Yucatan Peninsula from the late pre-classic 400 BC until the end of
the terminal classic in 800 AD. However, during the middle pre-classic from 1000 BC until 400 BC
large populations centers were established around some of the largest Maya cities.
Increases in the sophistication from society, to
culture, and then to civilisation were matched by the formation of class structure
and skill specialisation, economy and trade, and increased production
of food. Initially, large cities grew in sites that provided good agricultural land.
However, as food demands increased the Maya intensified food production through drainage of swamps
into grids of raised land and channels, and through terracing.
Perhaps the highest food production came from drained
swamp land where soil fertility could be maintained through dredging channels, and by fish and
other aquatic life from the channels.
There were a large range of crops and fruit bearing
trees grown. The main sustainance crops were maize (corn) and bean's.
The Maya also extracted natural
resources including harvest of wildlife for food, and forests use for timber, honey, and
other products. see Maya Natural Resource
Other tree crops included papaya, annoua, sapodilla,
cherimaya, coyol, and garden crops allspice, vanilla, oregano.
Domestic animals farmed for food included dogs,
turkeys, deer, stingless bees, doves.