MAYA NATURAL RESOURCE EXTRACTION
The Maya extracted natural resources through
hunting, fishing, timber harvesting, mining, and salt extraction. The Maya hunted birds, mammals, and reptiles,
fished for fish, shellfish and lobster, mined jade, hematite, and obsidian, and extracted
Wild food plants: There are a wide range
of wild food plants in the Central American region including papaya, avocados, sapodilla, and
pinapple, and many spice and herp plants.
Mammals: Animals were hunted with blow guns, bows and
arrows, spears, and snares.
included manatee, deer, tapir, agouti, rabbits, monkeys.
Birds: Curassow, Chukka lukkas, doves and
Reptiles: included snakes, tortoises, lizards, and perhaps crocodiles and tortoises. No doubt the Maya had considerable respect for
the snakes within their territory; coral snakes of various Micrurus species, jumping
pitviper (Atropoides mummifera), rainforest hognosed pitviper (Porthidium
nasutum), and especially the barba amarila (Bothrops asper) or fer-de-lance,
and cascabel (Crotalus durissus) or Neotropical rattlesnake.
Species that graced Maya tables, were probably the
Central American river turtle (Dermatemys mawii), the jictea or Mesoamerican slider turtle
(Trachemys scripta), Morelet’s crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii), the boa
constrictor (Boa constrictor), and in some places green (Iguana iguana) and black
iguanas (Ctenosaura similis). Black iguanas are still hunted around Sarteneja by
Guetemalan immigrants, and the now Endangered, Central American river turtle is legally ritually
harvested ??? over Easter. This practice
Marine species may have included
the American saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), and the marine turtles, green,
hawksbill, and loggerhead, found in coastal Belize. Amphibians were not normally eaten
because of their small size but were important to the Maya as symbols of life giving rain and
fertility. Indeed much of Maya mythology involved reptiles, and in Maya cosmology the Earth was the
back of a large crocodile (Campbell ????).
Fishing: Fire clay net weights have been found and fish
hooks for catching seafood including fish, molluscs, and crustaceans.
Amphibians and reptiles
of Northern Guatemala, the Yucatan and Belize. Jonathan A. Campbell. Animal Natural History Series.
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.