Pollen, loss on ignition and magnetic susceptibility analyses provide a high-resolution palaeoenvironmental record from Lago Puerto Arturo, Peten, Guatemala. The presence of Zea pollen -2650 BC provides a latest date for the arrival of maize agriculture to the region. The following 3600 years are marked by significant opening of the forest and episodic pulses of erosion. During the early Preclassic, around 1450 BC, all proxies indicate an abrupt increase in human activity, coincident with archaeological evidence of early settlement. Three discrete periods of decreased human activity are indicated by cessations of landscape disturbance. Such decreased human activity likely reflects periodic local population decline. These events coincide with times of cultural transition in the Maya lowlands and correspond to the terminal phases of the middle Preclassic, late Preclassic and late Classic periods. There is no evidence for human activity in the area following the late Classic abandonment. ?? 2007 SAGE Publications.