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The Fall of the Mayan Civilization

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The Fall of the Mayan Civilization
HUM111 Assignment 1: Essay
The Fall of the Mayan Civilization
Patricia Ross
Dr. Dennis Bull
October 30, 2011
Clearly state the “mystery” and provide a brief summary of at least two theories which could explain the mystery. Because some theories may sound far-fetched, include the source or promoter of each theory – such as a scientist, a historian, a theologian, etc. The Mayan people were comprised of many small kingdoms and never unified into one entity (Sayre, 2011). They occupied many regions and spread rapidly in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize (James & Thorpe, 1999). Their civilization declined around the year 850 (Sayre, 2011). There is some speculation as to why they disappeared so abruptly. The researcher’s theories are (a) lack of food due to the overpopulation of their culture, (b) climate change and the ecosystem and (c) warfare. In 1999, Peter James, writer and Dr. Nick Thorpe, archaeologist subtitle one of their theories as “Too Many Mouths, Too Little Food” (p. 90) They discuss that through droughts, plant diseases and pests, low quality soil, and a population that became difficult to feed; the population could not flourish and thus their culture collapsed (James & Thorpe, 1999). Gaia Vince writes about a new study conducted by Gerald Haug and his team, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (2003). They drilled into the earth’s core to find sediments’ of titanium and took measurements. They found that although these samples were taken 200 kilometers from the Mayan cities that there climate is identical. From their samples they found different bands deciphering wet and dry periods. Haug and his team concluded that there were three periods that indicate drought through low titanium levels. These droughts would have taken place in the years AD 810, 860, and 910 (Science, vol 299, p.1731). Vince concludes that the scientists say that “These dates correspond to the three years of Mayan collapse” (2003).



References: Huag, et al., Science, vol 299, 14 March 2003: 1731-1735. DOI 10.1126/science. 108044 James, P., & Thorpe, N., (1999). Ancient mysteries. (pp. 86-95). New York: Ballantine Books Morley, Y. G., & Brainerd, G. W. (1983). The ancient maya. (Fourth ed., p. 88). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Sayre, H. (2011). The humanities: Culture, continuity and change. (Custom ed., Vol.1, pp. 390-392). New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Vince, G. (2003). The Maya 's arid end. New Scientist, 177(2387), 19. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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