Maya Civilization Collapse Essay

1611 words - 6 pages

The example of societal collapse in which I will be making reference to throughout this essay is the Maya civilization. The Maya civilization is, “probably the best known of all early American civilizations.” (Fagan, 1995) It was at its strongest point between AD 300 AND 900. Around AD 900 was the time of its collapse. This civilization was developed in a densely, tropical forest on either highlands or lowlands. Today to visit a Mayan site, people would go to the modern Mexican state, capital city of Merida. This site was once home to the “New World's most advanced Native American civilization before European arrival.” (Diamond, 2009) Over the years there has been many predictions on what had caused the Maya civilization to collapse. At the moment the most recent cause that geographers and scientists have come up with is that climate change may have had a major impact on this collapse. It is said that the rainfall received during the creation of the civilization was a key factor in the continuity of life for the Mayans. This and the addition of societal factors such as religious beliefs, ethnicity and education all had an affect on their way of life, an effect on their societal well-being. Art and architecture that was formed by the Mayans is the foundation for the archaeologists work today. They look at these features and the ruins of the buildings created to depict the kind of lifestyle they lived. Looking at the art and architecture of a specific civilization or community of the past is just one way that can help to inform future adaptations. Another way in which the Europeans received knowledge on the collapse was that they sent out geographers and researchers not long after the collapse to gather as much data and information as possible. This can also be seen as a key lesson that can inform future adaptations.
It was at the beginning of the Classic-Maya period that roughly 60 cities were developed, each containing approximately 60,000 and 70,000 people. (Mott, 2012) The Maya civilization stretched out over land of about 550 miles in length and roughly 350 miles in width. According to Lhote et al. (1963) there were two different types of Maya land, the mountain and the jungle. The southern part of the land was mainly covered in mountains and consisted of lakes, volcanoes, deep valleys and plateaux. As stated in the introduction because of their place of settlement the temperature in this region was fairly temperate, this could be seen through the flora that grew there. Dispersed over this vast landscape was a tropical forest cover. This was dense, hot, humid land which in today's society attracts diseases such as malaria, dysentery, hookworm and more. Within and surrounding these cities were the formations of pyramids, temples and courts. These structures were built in severe weather conditions where there was an expected average rainfall of 10 feet a year and the dry season only lasted a couple of months. This shows how climate change and...

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