The Chultunes of Labna, Yucatan: Report of Explorations By the Museum, 1888-89, and 1890-91, Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. I, Nos. 3

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Author: Edward Herbert Thompson (1857-1935)

Year: 1970

Publisher: Kraus Reprint Company

Place: New York


20 pages followed by 13 plates with line drawings in text. Folio (14" x 11") bound in original publisher's wrappers. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Volume I, Number 3. First published in 1897.

During a visit to Yucatan in 1888, Mr. Charles P. Bowditch was impressed with the importance of archaeological research in this land of ancient culture. On his return to Boston, he interested several friends of the Museum to join him in the project of carrying on explorations in this region under the auspices of the Museum. Mr. Edward H. Thompson, who, as United States Consul to Merida, had been living in Yucatan for several years, was engaged to direct and to conduct the work on the part of the Museum. Water in central and northern Yucatán is scarce during the dry season, in particular. The peninsula lacks surface rivers and relies on cenotes, or sinkholes, hand dug small wells to tap the water table 5 to 10 feet underground; a common practice in the northeastern part of the peninsula, where the table is lower than in other parts of the State. The other water supply is of course the rainy season, stored for both human consumption and cultures. The problem is that seasonal rains are not constant in their frequency nor volume. The answer by communities then was to both build chultunes and aguadas, large surface areas prepared to receive rain fall. In cities and towns, the water capture was done through a slightly concave circular lime plastered area, that covered level spaces of plazas, with a central catchment: the chultún. The catchment circular area declination then channeled rain water toward its opening, at the center of the catchment (arrow), where the water was stored in a large lime coated ceramic jar.


Edge wear, corners bumped, some age toning to wrapper extremities else very good.