Underwater excavations at Ta’ab Nuk Na, the largest of 110 Maya sites submerged in Paynes Creek, Belize, have found hundreds of wooden posts (pictured below) from Classic Maya ‘pole and thatch’ buildings.
The finds offer a glimpse of Maya architecture that does not often survive in the tropical landscape, and into the organisation of salt production.
Other salt works at Paynes Creek have been investigated, but at Ta’ab Nuk Na, Heather McKillop, from Louisiana State University and A&M College, and E Cory Sills, from the University of Texas at Tyler, set out to see if workers lived on site.
As recently published in their study in the journal Antiquity, evidence of fishing, food preparation, woodworking, and cotton-spinning suggests that a large structure (built along with three salt works c. AD 650) was a residential building.
With workers living on site, and indoor salt kitchens, Ta’ab Nuk Na could produce salt year-round, trading their surplus to meet the demand of the growing inland cities.