Ancient Mayans produced salt: study

Evidence shows that the civilisation also stored and traded the commodity Salt may have been a valuable commodity for the Mayans, say scientists who found that the ancient civilisation produced, stored and traded the mineral over 1,000 years ago. Stone tools found at a site called the Paynes Creek Salt Works in Belize shows that not only were the Maya making salt in large quantities, but they were salting fish and meat to meet dietary needs and producing a commodity that could be stored and traded. “Since we found virtually no fish or other animal bones during our sea-floor survey or excavations, I was surprised that the microscopic markings on the stone tools, which we call ‘use-wear,’ showed that most of the tools were used to cut or scrape fish or meat,” said Heather McKillop, a professor at Louisiana State University in the U.S. Scientists discovered more than 4,000 wooden posts that outline a series of buildings used as salt kitchens where brine was boiled in pots over fires to make salt. The pottery is also used in modern and historic salt-making and is called briquetage. The salt was hardened in pots to form salt cakes and used to salt fish and meat, which were storable commodities that could be transported to marketplaces by canoe within the region. The Classic Maya from 300-900 A.D. may have travelled by boat along the coast and up rivers to cities to trade and barter. “These discoveries substantiate the model of regional production and distribution of salt,” Ms. McKillop said.

Source  :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-life/ancient-mayans-produced-salt-study/article25174004.ece

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