The Classic Maya Collapse: New Evidence on a Great Mystery
|The Maya of the Classic Period 150–900 CE created one of the most dynamic and successful societies of the ancient Americas. Millions of people inhabited thousands of settlements, divided among more than a hundred kingdoms. By controlling water resources and terraforming the landscape they developed an agricultural system that supported a ruling class of king and, nobles, as well as strata of artists, architects, potters, merchants, and warriors. But at about 800 things began to go seriously wrong and within a century all their great cities were abandoned, never to be reoccupied. One of the great problems of world archaeology, this catastrophe has never lacked theories, what it lacked was hard facts pointing to an explanation. But today we might finally be close to understanding what happened and laying a mystery to rest.
Simon Martin, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor, Anthropology, Curator, American Section, Penn Museum