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What Happened to the Mayan Civalization

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What Happened to the Mayan Civilization

This essay explores two possibilities or theories, as to why the Mayan civilization eventually collapsed. While many theories surround this phenomenon, there is no distinct conclusion as to what exactly happened to the Mayan culture. However, archeologists have been able to attain some evidence, which has aided them to an approximation of time as to when the Mayan culture began its collapse or downfall. As the Mayan culture settled in an area where most human civilizations would normally find unsuitable or inhabitable, the Mayan people found ingenious ways to survive this harsh environment, and eventually prosper for many centuries. Unfortunately, as this rapidly growing culture became more advanced and powerful, struggle for more power and resources from different city-states caused the Mayans to frequently and viciously go to war with each other. Self destruction- a high probability! On the other hand, as the environment suffered a long period of drought, the absence of water supply hindered the Mayans to the basic necessities of life. With basic resources running low (especially lack of water supply), one can see why the Mayans warred among themselves, which would eventually cause their own extinction, and furthermore, why famine became so widespread. This is why these two particular theories regarding the collapse of the Mayan civilization are the most compelling to me.

What Happened To The Mayan Civilization
Warmongering and Environmental Famine While there are many mysteries regarding the termination of the Mayan Empire, warfare and famine are among the numerous theories. Disputing evidence has been hypothesized as to when exactly the era of the Mayan Civilization began, but Archeologists believe the Mayan culture began around 2600 BCE. But as of 2010, one of the most accepted views as to when settlement actually began was around 1800 BCE, in the Soconusco region of the Pacific Coast. Furthermore, three periods of history have been identified; the Preclassic 300 BCE – 250 ACE, Classic Period, 250 ACE - 900 ACE, and the Post Classic, after 900 ACE. As this complex society began settlement under the most extreme environmental conditions, by 800 ACE, this dynasty peaked, boasting of several robust and powerful city-states. By 904 ACE, the culture flourished as thousands occupied Southern Mexico to Northern Honduras. How could such a thriving civilization virtually disappear?
Internal and external warfare were evident among the many inscriptions and pictures depicted on stone carvings. Vicious, fierce, and ruthless they were! Constantly warring, the culture inevitably deteriorated. Growing in resentment, the lower class, which consisted mainly of peasants and slaves, rebelled against the few upper-class nobles and priests. Likewise, conflict penetrated the Mayan society from abroad or other Mayan city-states as invaders frequently attacked. Widespread bloodshed eventually took its toll – leading to economic disaster for the ancient empire as records indicate.
Catastrophe strikes, as famine creates environmental chaos. From 1020-1100 A.D. the region suffered from drought, which caused significant agricultural decline. Scientists studied samples of lake and cave sediments that showed evidence of the lack of rainfall during those dreadful years. While crops deteriorated, wildlife also declined, leaving little to no food; extremely limited ways to farm or cultivate, which would eventually lead to famine. Starvation prevailed and turmoil succeeded. Destitution caused those who survived to migrate to other parts of the world or viciously fight among themselves, causing their own self-destruction.
Was it warfare or famine that caused the downfall of this once sophisticated society? Actually, it was most likely not either/or, rather, both/and. The culmination of the two indicates that the Mayan people struggled from both plaques, as well as other possible difficulties. Evidence shows that the Mayan civilization indeed suffered from both plausible theories of warmongering and environmental famine, which consequently lead to the fatality of this once prosperous nation.


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