Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A Cosmology of Conservation in the Ancient Maya World

Lisa J. Lucero Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 607 S. Mathews Ave. MC-148, Urbana, IL 61801, USA. Email: SUBMITTED: Apr 07, 2017ACCEPTED: Aug 30, 2017ONLINE: July 27, 2018 Abstract Full Text PDF Abstract The Classic Maya of the southern lowlands were one with world rather than one with nature, a view that promoted the conservation of their world for millennia, what I term a cosmology of conservation. I explore how their cosmocentric worldview fostered biodiversity and conservation by discussing the ceremonial circuit and pilgrimage destination of Cara Blanca, Belize. Here the Maya left a minimal footprint in the form of ceremonial buildings from which they performed ceremonies, doing their part to maintain the world at several of the 25 water bodies/portals to the underworld. The Maya intensified their visits when several prolonged droughts struck between 800 and 900 ce; it was to no avail, and many Maya emigrated and have successfully renegotiated their relationship in the world to the present day. Their history of engagement serves as a lesson for present society, one that cannot be ignored. Key words: Maya, cosmology, conservation, pilgrimage, cosmocentric worldview, sustainability.