February 23, 2016

New Understanding of the Maya Collapse

Most Classic Maya cities fell between 850-925 CE, a time corresponding with a century of drought. Maya cities in the Yucatan survived. Archaeologists have now studied all 900 Maya sites in the Yucatan by way of calendar inscriptions and radiocarbon dating. The new study changes our understanding of what happened in the Yucatan. There was a 70% decline in calendar inscriptions in the Yucatan during the time of the southern drought. Radiocarbon dates also show that wooden construction also dwindled at this time. There was a short recovery in the 10th century during a time of increased rainfall. Then another slump from 1000-1075 CE during a time of severe drought. The 10th century drought was even larger. After this drought, Maya society in the north collapsed. Chichen Itza and other important centers were abandoned. Low crop yields due to severe drought could not sustain the large population.
There was also inter-city warfare. The Maya had dug huge canal systems to produce new arable land. And they cleared huge forests to make room for their centers. This may have led to more serious problems during the droughts.

The BBC has the full report here;

Mike Ruggeri’s Maya World

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Maya News Magazine

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Maya News on Tumblr

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