August 6, 2019

New Research on Maya Total Warfare

New research on the Maya carried out by the University of California, Berkeley, and the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that the Maya used scorched earth military campaigns, destroying everything in their path, including cropland, at the height of their Classic age. This goes against the idea that this was only a response by the Maya during their decline.

Researchers found an inch-thick layer of charcoal at the bottom of lake Laguna Ek’Naab in Guatemala, and the burning of the city Witzna. This took place at 690-700 CE. The event is recorded with the date May 21, 697 CE of a burning campaign recorded on a stone stela at the rival city of Naranjo. The proof of the fire by the new research coinciding with the written record is an amazing proof in the ancient Maya world. Seven meters of sediment cores under the lake matches the burning of Witzna’s monuments. Human activity at Witzna decreased dramatically after the event. The event coincides with more evidence of mass burials, fortified cities and large standing armies throughout the Maya world at the same time.

It appears that total warfare was not the cause of the Maya collapse, since total warfare was a constant across the Maya era.

Three other references to “burning” are mentioned in the same war statement, referencing the cities of Komkom, K’an Witznal, and K’inchil, location unknown. These cities may also have been decimated,

The researchers note that it is known that the conquest of Bahlam Jol/Witzna was set in motion by a queen of Naranjo, Lady 6 Sky, who was trying to reestablish her dynasty after the city-state had declined and lost all its possessions. She set her seven-year-old son, Kahk Tilew, on the throne and then began military campaigns to wipe out all the rival cities that had rebelled, Estrada-Belli said.

The research is published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour

The report is at EurekAlert;–mmw080519.php

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