Why the mayan empire collapsed

Prev NEXT Unlike other vanished civilizations, at least some of the Mayans' written records have survived, which has enabled scholars to partially reconstruct their history. But those tantalizing clues have only made the mystery of their decline more frustrating [source: Over the years, researchers have developed various theories about what caused the decline of Mayan civilization. Here are three of the most prominent ones:

Why the mayan empire collapsed

August 22, Zap IchigoShutterstock The city states of the ancient Mayan empire flourished in southern Mexico and northern Central America for about six centuries.

Two new studies examine the reasons for the collapse of the Mayan culturefinding the Mayans themselves contributed to the downfall of the empire.

Scientists have found that drought played a key rolebut the Mayans appear to have exacerbated the problem by cutting down the jungle canopy to make way for cities and crops, according to researchers who used climate-model simulations to see how much deforestation aggravated the drought.

Images of Drought ] Using climate-model simulations, he and his colleagues examined how much the switch from forest to crops, such as corn, would alter climate. Their results, detailed online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggested that when deforestation was at its maximum, it could account for up to 60 percent of the drying.

The switch from trees to corn reduces the amount of water transferred from the soil to the atmosphere, which reduces rainfall. Other recent research takes a more holistic view.

The team, led by B.

3 Reasons why the Ancient Maya Collapsed

Turner, a social scientist at Arizona State University, concurs that by clearing the forest, the Mayans may have aggravated a natural drought, which spiked about the time the empire came to an end and population declined dramatically.

But this is just one contributing factor to their demise, Turner and colleagues write, pointing out that the reconfiguration of the landscape may also have led to soil degradation.

Other archaeological evidence points to a landscape under stress, for instance, the wood of the sapodilla tree, favored as construction beams, was no longer used at the Tikal and Calakmul sites beginning in A.

Larger mammals, such as white-tailed deer, appear to have declined at the end of empire.

Why the mayan empire collapsed

Social and economic dynamics also contributed. This change may have weakened the city states, which were contending with environmental changes. Faced with mounting challenges, the ruling elites, a very small portion of the population, were no longer capable of delivering what was expected of them, and conflict increased.As already stated, the Classic Maya collapse was not the end of the Maya culture.

Northern cities and those in the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala survived up to the Spanish Conquest, and even today seven million people speak Mayan in Mesoamerica. The Maya culture suffered a terrible blow, but it did not disappear completely.

Their civilization extended to parts of what is now Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador, and most of Guatemala and Belize.

From the third to the ninth century, Maya civilization produced awe-inspiring temples and pyramids, highly accurate calendars, mathematics and hieroglyphic writing, and a complex social and political order.

Collapse: The Maya

The city states of the ancient Mayan empire flourished in southern Mexico and northern Central America for about six centuries. Then, around A.D. Mayan civilization disintegrated. Two new studies examine the reasons for the collapse of the Mayan culture, finding the Mayans themselves contributed to the downfall of the empire.

An ancient lake holds secrets to the Mayan civilization’s mysterious collapse, study finds The Mayan empire, exceptionally advanced for its time, collapsed in just a few hundred years.

Locating the Maya

(Mark. The Classic Maya collapse is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in archaeology. Urban centers of the southern lowlands, among them Palenque, Copán, Tikal, and Calakmul, went into decline during the 8th and 9th centuries and were abandoned shortly thereafter.

Most scholars seem to agree that a drought was the main reason the ancient Maya civilization collapsed, but deforestation, famine, and warfare are also possibilities that cannot be overruled at present.

Classic Maya collapse - Wikipedia