chapter
Introduction Prosperity across Centuries /
Pages 8

The exploration leaves no doubt regarding the role of the ancient Maya in enriching the composition of the forest, one that today is recognized for its economic values and biodiversity. But the traditional Maya milpa we have described has been commodified and marginalized. The potential for the contemporary Maya to influence the conservation of the forest into the future rests on, first, recognizing their contribution to restoration agriculture and, second, including them in the process before it is too late. Though the chapter has emphasized the environmental aspects of Maya prehistory, they are actually arguing against an overly deterministic environmental view. The argument presented leads to the following four related hypotheses that are anchored in our interpretation of available archaeological, ethnographic, ecological, and paleoecological data. Current interpretations of ancient Maya agriculture express a Eurocentric perspective that has been blind to the cultural legacy of the Maya forest.