Archaeologists Find Underwater Salt Kitchens of the Ancient Maya

Now below sea level, the workplaces and settlements were vital sites of salt production.

Recent excavations of submerged Maya salt kitchens off the coast of Belize indicate that their ancient workers lived on the sites and possibly worked in kin-based teams.

The archaeological site is called Ta’ab Nuk Na, and it was in operation from 600 CE to 800 CE. It’s the largest of 110 submerged Maya sites in Paynes Creek, a nature reserve on Belize’s southern coast. Archaeological analysis of the operations at Ta’ab Nuk Na are published today in the journal Antiquity.

“The discovery of a residence at the site indicates the salt workers were living there instead of commuting daily from somewhere else on the coast or moving to the coast seasonally from inland areas,” said Heather McKillop, an archaeologist at Louisiana State University and the study’s lead author, in an email to Gizmodo.

The Maya mainly produced salt in two ways: evaporating saltwater and boiling brine in briquetage, or coarse ceramic vessels, over fire. The second method was…

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