Most of the field work on salt production is done throughout Belize. For Guatemala, mainly in Salinas de los Nueve Cerros. Salt is well known from the Maya highlands, which includes Sacapulas in Quiché and San Mateo Ixtatán in Huehuetenango, but not enough research has been started for other Guatemalan salt sources. Salt, of course, is known from the coast of the Pacific Ocean, but much more could still be achieved.

Salinas de los Nueve Cerros in Alta Verapaz was an important Pre-Columbian city because it was the only non-marine source of salt in the Maya lowlands. The salt was extracted from a fountain that flows from a hill with an underground salt dome. Estimates of the production of the Nueve Cerros salt flat vary between 300 and 2400; it was an important source of salt in the Classic period for the neighboring regions of Alto Usumacinta, the Guatemalan Petén and the Selva Lacandona. In addition, the city was also valuable for being a nexus of exchange between the Lowlands and the Highlands due to its location on the banks of the Chixoy River at the foot of the Highlands (Andrews, 1997 & Woodfill et al, 2012).

On the other side, Sacapaculas and San Mateo Ixtatán were centers of production and marketing of black salt, which is still produced to date, although in smaller quantities than in Pre-Columbian times. In the case of Sacapulas, the extraction of salt comes from the Chixoy or Rio Negro, while in San Mateo Ixtatán there are 4 different springs: Sjaj, Snahal, Almul and K'eyb'il, according to Marcos, D. (2021). The same author also mentions that, “black salt, in addition to being a special seasoning for food, also has healing properties, such as when it is mixed with apazote, which serves to reduce inflammation; It is used in the same way as a dewormer, or for sprains or sprains of bones, for which a handful of salt water with elder leaves is rubbed on the affected area to remove the pain.”

The bibliography presented here has the purpose of providing you useful references to understand the Mayan production of salt, as well as its trade from before the arrival of the Spaniards to the present.

Bailey-Bridge-Sacapulis-iPhone-13ProMax-Nov-26-2021-NH
Bailey-Bridge-Sacapulis-iPhone-13ProMax-Nov-26-2021-NH
Bailey-Bridge-Sacapulis-iPhone-13ProMax-Nov-26-2021-NH

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in General

  • ANDREWS, Anthony P.
  • 1978
  • Salt Making, Merchants and Markets: The Role of a Critical Resource in the development of Maya Civilization, PhD dissertation, Dept of Anthropology, University of Arizona. 392 pages.

    Downloadable online:
    https://repository.arizona.edu/handle/10150/565474
  • ANDREWS, Anthony P. and Shirley B. MOCK
  • 2019
  • Aj Atz'aam, “The Salt People”. The Use of Salt at the Maya City of Calakmul. Estudios de cultura maya, vol. LV, pp. 11-40, 2020. UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas.

    Note: Very helpful to undestand the prehispanic uses and commercialization of the salt.

    Available online:
    https://www.redalyc.org/journal/2813/281364929001/html/
  • LANGE, F. W.
  • 1971
  • Marine Resources, a Viable Subsistence Alternative for the Prehistoric Lowland Maya. American Anthropologist 73: 619-639.
  • MURATA, Satoru
  • 2008
  • Wits Cah Ak’al: The First Hybrid Salt/Pottery Production Site in the Maya Lowlands. Paper Presented at the 73rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver BC.

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

  • DILLON, Brian
  • 1977
  • Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala: Preliminary Investigations. In, Ballena Press Studies in Mesoamerican Art, Archaeology and Ethnohistory 2, Socorro, NM: Ballena Press.
  • DILLON, Brian
  • 1979
  • The Archaeological Ceramics of Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley.
  • DILLON, Brian, POPE, Kevin and Michael LOVE
  • 1988
  • An Ancient Extractive Industry: Maya Saltmaking at Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Guatemala. Journal of New World Archaeology 7(2/3):37-58.
  • SCHWAB, G., LENTZ, M., SANCHEZ, S., WOODFILL, B., MONTERROSO, M. and J. VALLE
  • 2012
  • Espeleoarqueología, etnohistoria y etnografía en la región Nueve Cerros. En XXV Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2011 (editado por B. Arroyo, L. Paiz, y H. Mejía), pp. 550- 589. Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Instituto de Antropología e Historia y Asociación Tikal, Guatemala.

    Downloadable online:
    www.asociaciontikal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/049_schwab_et_al_2011.pdf
  • WOODFILL, B., MONTERROSO, M., DILLON, B., VALLE, J., MIJANGOS, B., BURGOS, W., VELÁSQUEZ, A., WOLF, M. and C. TOX.
  • 2012
  • Salinas de los Nueve Cerros: Nuevos aportes de una Ciudad Maya “industrial” entre el altiplano y las tierras bajas. En XXV Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2011 (editado por B. Arroyo, L. Paiz, y H. Mejía), pp. 185-195. Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Instituto de Antropología e Historia y Asociación Tikal, Guatemala.

    Downloadable online:
    www.asociaciontikal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/016_Woodfill_et_al..pdf

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in Sacapulas, Quiche

  • CHOCANO Alfaro, Guillermo Alejandro
  • 2012
  • Investigaciones etnoarqueológicas en la región Tujaal, Sacapulas, Quiché. In XXV Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2011 (editado por B. Arroyo, L. Paiz, and H. Mejía), pp. 486- 494. Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Instituto de Antropología e Historia y Asociación Tikal, Guatemala.

    Downloadable online:
    www.asociaciontikal.com/simposio-25-ano-2011/041-chocano-doc/

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in Sacapulas, Quiche

https://aprende.guatemala.com/cultura-guatemalteca/general/sal-negra-mineral-ancestral-de-quiche/
General information

www.facebook.com/AxupajCommunity/
Mentions black salt but no documentation of origins, processing, etc.

www.tierraandlava.com/black-salt
Buy black salt mixed with other materials at international commercial prices


Videos

www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw7cQONsCvQ&t=34s
5:00
One of the better videos; has helpful geological and local information.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_GCuujQKkI
6:17
viajando por Sacapulas Quiché y conociendo la sal negra.
Only mentions black salt; no pertinent information (most of the video is on the handicrafts sold along the main highway).

www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4fuXGXe1u8
4:16
Another video only mentions black salt; no pertinent information (most of the video is on the handicrafts sold along the main highway).

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in San Mateo Ixtatán, Huehuetenango

 

Helpful videos

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvZhtHd7Il8
9:48
Local mythology related to salt sources.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm8zMmtdL3U
Actors dressed in special clothing dancing to marimba music; nice local ethnographic views but not much salt geology.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG35rzWc1XM
6:43
Sal Negra en San Mateo Huehuetenango, Cortometraje Malin

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in Pacific Coastal area of Guatemala

  • NANCE, C. Roger
  • 1992
  • Guzmán Mound: A Late Preclassic salt works on the south coast of Guatemala Ancient Mesoamerica Vol. 3, No. 1 (Spring 1992), pp. 27-46 (20 pages)

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in Belize

  • HALLOCK, Ashley L.
  • n.d.
  • MA Thesis, Anthropology. 141 pages.
  • MacKINNON, J. J. and S. M. Kepecs
  • 1989
  • Prehispanic Saltmaking in Belize: New Evidence. American Antiquity 54(3):522-533.
  • McKILLOP, Heather
  • 1987
  • Wild Cane Caye: An Insular Classic Period to Postclassic Period Maya Trading Station. Ph. D. Dissertation Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • McKILLOP, Heather
  • 1995
  • Underwater Archaeology, Salt Production, and Coastal Maya Trade at Stingray Lagoon, Belize. Latin American Antiquity 6(3): 214-228.
  • McKILLOP, Heather
  • 2005
  • Finds in Belize Document Late Classic Maya Salt Making and Canoe Transport. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102(15): 5630-5634.

 

Bibliography on pre-Columbian Salt in Mexico (outside Mayan areas)

  • MENDIZÁBAL, M. O.
  • 1946
  • Influencia de la sal en la distribución geográfica de los grupos indíginas de México. In, Obras Completas, 2:181-340, México: D. F.
  • SANTLEY, R. S.
  • 2004
  • Prehistoric Salt Production at El Salado, Vera Cruz, Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 15(2):199-221.
  • VALDEZ, F. and Shirley B. MOCK
  • 1991
  • Additional Considerations for Prehispanic Saltmaking in Belize. American Antiquity 56(3): 520-525.
  • WILLIAMS, E.
  • 1999
  • The Ethnoarchaeology of Salt Production at Lake Cuitzeo, Michoacan, Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 10(4): 400-414.

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in Pacific Coastal area of Mexico (Oaxaca, Chiapas)

  • MACHUCA, Laura
  • 2007
  • Comercio de sal y redes de poder en Tehuantepec en la época colonial. CIESAS, 432 pages.
  • WILLIAMS, Eduardo
  • 2003
  • La sal de la tierra: etnoarqueología de la producción salinera en el occidente de México. El Colegio de Michoacán, 306 pages.

 

Bibliography of Maya Salt in Tabasco, Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo

  • ANTOINE, J. W. and W. R. BRYANT
  • 1969
  • Distribution of Salt and Salt Structures in Gulf of Mexico. AAPG Bulletin 53 (12): 2543–2550.
  • ENSMINGER, H. R. and J. E. MATTHEWS
  • 1972
  • Origin of Salt Domes in Bay of Campeche, Gulf of Mexico. AAPG Bulletin, 56 (4): 802–807.
  • HASAN, N. and P. MANN
  • 2021
  • Structural styles and evolution of the Campeche salt basin, southern Gulf of Mexico. Marine and Petroleum Geology, Vol. 133.
  • MARTINEZ, H. L., GONZALEZ, F. J. and P. BARTOK
  • 2005
  • Salt Involvement in the Jujo-Tecominoacan Thrust Belt, Chiapas-Tabasco Region, South East Basin, Mexico. Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions, Vol. 55, Pages 520-530.

 

First posted February 2022

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