Books : reviews

Anabel Ford, Ronald Nigh.
The Mayan Forest Garden: eight millennia of sustainable cultivation of the tropical woodlands.
Left Coast Press. 2015

The conventional wisdom says that the devolution of classic Maya civilization occurred because its population grew too large and dense to be supported by primitive neotropical farming methods, resulting in debilitating famines and internecine struggles. The Maya Forest Garden draws on years of the authors’ research to refute this Malthusian explanation of events in ancient Central America. The authors: • show that ancient Maya farmers developed ingenious, sustainable woodland techniques to cultivate numerous food plants (including the staple maize); • examine both contemporary tropical farming techniques and the archaeological record (particularly regarding climate) to reach their conclusions; • make the argument that these ancient techniques, still in use today, can support significant populations over long periods of time.