Extra Credit Paper
It is clear that climate and damage to the environment contributed to the Maya collapse. But what was the likely cycle of events leading to the cultural demise?’’ Support your answer with specific points based on the readings. Discuss the role of the engineered environment (especially the reservoirs) and Mayan agricultural strategies. Finally, do you think other factors may have also contributed to the Maya collapse? If so, explain why. Based on the Scarborough and Haugh readings, I believe that the likely cycle of events leading to the cultural demise were from bad or uninformed decision-making on agricultural strategies and infrastructure design strategies that positioned themselves to be heavily dependent on reservoirs for water. The Mayans made the decision to develop a civilization in a seasonal desert that depended on a consistent rainfall cycle to support agricultural production. Then, they engineered a reservoir system that ultimately depended on seasonal rainfall because much of the lowlands had only restricted natural groundwater resources. For agricultural strategies, the short-fallow slash-and-burn agriculture method, logging, and cattle ranching significantly affected portions of the ecosystem and limited access to potable water. Extensive shifting cultivation is not very advantageous because it requires a lot of land, time for regeneration, and fire that is difficult to control and promotes deforestation. It is an unsustainable method if there is limited amount land. For infrastructure design, architectural construction and paving accompanying a population boom in the Classic period required large water storage tanks in the site’s central precinct filled by directed seasonal runoff, but the pavements unintentionally prevented the normal recharging of the springs that had originally attracted colonists. Although the recharge and filtering of the pure water source was significantly curtailed, many more times the amount...
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