April 10, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Underwater archaeologists have discovered 41 new seaside salt production works used by the ancient Mayans in Central America.
The discovery at Punta Ycacos Lagoon in what is now Belize provides evidence of extensive salt production to serve the large Mayan cities on the interior of the Yucatan Peninsula, reports researcher Heather McKillop of Louisiana State University.
Her findings were reported in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Researchers had known about four saltworks in the area. The discovery of 41 new works, along with the remains of wood buildings from the era of A.D. 600 to 900, indicates that salt was mass produced and stored before it was shipped upriver, she reported.
Ceramic pottery was used for boiling water to produce the salt, she wrote. A canoe paddle also was found, indicating that the salt was transported inland by canoe.
The research was supported by a grant from Louisiana State University.