In an oxygen-free sediment preserved beneath the ocean floor near Belize, archaeologists have discovered the remains of salt kitchens built by ancient Mayan people to cook salt water for use in food and canning. As published in an article entitled “Briquetting and Salt Water: Life and Work in Classical Maya Salt Works of Ek Way Nal, Belize” published in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica, Louisiana State University archaeologist Heather McKillop and Cory Sills, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Tyler, speculated that the remains of nearby apartments were home to Mayan people who worked in kitchens to send salt to inland cities.
While fieldwork near what is known as the Paynes Creek Saltworks is still delayed due to the pandemic, researchers tested samples of wooden pillars and building parts, as well as broken pieces of pottery at the LSU Archaeological Laboratory, and compiled a time frame during which the saltworks and residences were built. until about 900 BC
“The Archaeological Lab looks like Tupperware fun, with hundreds of plastic water containers, but they keep wood samples moist so they don’t dry out and spoil,” McKillop said in a report released by LSU Media Center.
The results of radiocarbon dating indicate the formation in different phases of salty kitchens, residential dwellings and outdoor areas in which the fish is salted for drying. “The research emphasizes the importance of radiocarbon dating of each pillar and thatched building in the saltworks to assess the production capacity of this nutritional need,” McKillop added.