To begin with there is conflicting evidence as to when the Mayan Indians developed in the Mexico area. One source states that they originated in the Yucatan around 2600 B.C., rising to prominence around A.D. 250 present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador and northern Belize (http://lost-civilizations.net). Another source states that the earliest evidence of people in Central America dates to the time of the retreat of the Pleistocene glacier, the first traces of ancient Maya culture (as indicated by the first appearance of pottery) are from much later. The earliest inhabitants of the Maya area used stone tools to hunt ice age animals during the Paleo-Indian period, which began about 9500 B.C. The stages of Maya civilization were the Archaic Period from 8000 B.C. – 2000 B.C.; Pre Classic Period 2000 B.C. – A.D. 200; Classic Period 200 A.D. – A.D. 900; Post Classic Period A.D. 900 – A.D. 1500s.
It was during the Classic Period that the Maya people built beautiful cities and temples, palaces, pyramids, and plazas. Religious ceremonies, feasts, affairs of government, and commerce drew thousands of outlying residents to the city centers. There were more than fifty independent city-states on the Yucatan Peninsula during the Classic period.
Around A.D. 900 the great civilization began to fall. The Maya stopped building sacred structures and abandoned their cities altogether. In my research I have found that several resources differ on the exact reason for this, however several do agree that something dire and dramatic had indeed happened to promote the collapse of this civilization. Other experts think this could have resulted from overpopulation, war, or environmental damage such as earthquake or hurricane. They may have migrated northward in search for better farmland as well. A number of scientist specializing in the reconstruction of ancient vegetation and climate have reported significant climatic changes around A.D. 900 coinciding with the Classic Maya collapse (McKillop, 2004, 311).
Sir J. Eric S. Thompson, one of the leading Maya archaeologists of the twentieth century, began his field work at Chichen Itza in 1926. He knew that centers such as Tikal and Uaxactun were occupied in Preclassic times and that there were plenty of ceramic evidence indicating continued settlement in various regions long after the abandonment of core complexes of large architecture. As he later sarcastically put it: The view has been widely held that when the great Maya ceremonial centers of the Central area ceased to function at the close of the Classic period, that is about A.D. 900 or shortly thereafter, the whole of the population deserted the region or was wiped out by some unknown catastrophe. It has been further supposed that the great core of the central area embracing most of the great ceremonial centers, misnamed cities, reverted to forest and remained virtually uninhabited for a millennium until awakened from sleep, like some sleeping beauty of the tropics, by the machetes of chewing-gun gathers and the kisses of archaeological Prince Charmings (Webster 2002). Either way the overgrown regions proved that a total breakdown of whatever form had indeed happened. In the attempts to accurately understand what might have happened are methodologically flawed because we lacked a comprehensive grasp of what had happened and over how long a time it happened. Most Maya sites are dated by studying the changing decoration on pottery found in burials and caches associated with successive building renovations (and sometimes from the foundations themselves) and from different depths in household midden deposits. Using the principle of stylistic change over time commonly accepted by archaeologists, temporal frameworks have been established from excavated pottery from individual sites. The chronologies can generally only narrow time frames down to within several hundred...