Ancient origins: Mayan cities had unique Neotropical forest parks

Ancient Origins highlighted a University of Cincinnati study that used DNA analysis to identify vegetation that grew along the reservoirs of the ancient Mayan city of Tikal over a thousand years ago.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati say Tikal Reservoirs – the city’s essential sources of drinking water – were lined with trees and wild vegetation that would have provided scenic natural beauty in the heart of the bustling city.

UC researchers have developed a new system to analyze ancient plant DNA in sediment reservoirs at Tikal Temple and Palace to identify more than 30 species of trees, grasses, vines and trees. flowering plants that lived along its banks over 1,000 years ago. Their discoveries painted a picture of a wild and lush oasis.

“Almost the entire city center was paved. It would get pretty hot in the dry season, ”said paleoethnobotanist David Lentz, a professor of biology at the College of Arts and Sciences at UC and lead author of the study.

“So it would make sense for them to have nice and cool places along the reservoir,” he said. “It must have been beautiful to look at with the water and the trees and a place of welcome for kings and their families.”

Researchers at UC’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Medicine have discovered 30 species of wild plants.

The study was published in the Nature review Scientific reports.

Read the story of ancient origins.

Featured image above: The pyramids of Tikal rise above the rainforest in Guatemala. Photo / Jimmy Baum / Wikimedia Commons

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