This ethnoarchaeological study at the Q'eqchi' Maya village of Las Pozas, Guatemala, aimed to refine the understanding of the relationship between soil chemical signatures and human activities for archaeological applications. The research involved phosphorus, exchangeable ion (calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium), and trace element analysis of soils and earth floors extracted by Mehlich II, ammonium acetate, and DTPA chelate solutions, respectively. The results showed high levels of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and pH in food preparation areas, as well as high phosphorus concentrations and low pH in food consumption areas. The traffic areas exhibited low phosphorus and trace element contents, whereas refuse disposal areas were enriched. These results provide important information for the understanding of space use in ancient settlements. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.