John Marston’s research made The Brink’s top 10 discoveries of 2022

As posted on The Brink, “BU’s research news site, we bring you a small slice of that work, showcasing some of the University’s latest contributions to improving our understanding of the world—and making it better for all of us. As 2022 draws to a close, we’re sharing 10 of our favorite facts and discoveries from another remarkable year of BU research stories.


More than a millennium after someone dug two holes into the corner of a home in central Guatemala, archaeologists are sifting through the ancient pits to discover the secrets of the long-dead inhabitants’ lives, including their diet and health. Researchers, including John M. Marston, a CAS associate professor of archaeology and of anthropology, found the pits were full of the microscopic byproducts of a cooking process used to turn corn kernels into tamales. They think those byproducts help show the holes were latrines, with the ancient Maya using the water left over from making the traditional masa dish to flush indoor toilets. The findings are “the earliest evidence for toilets in the Maya world,” says Marston.”