The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context
Case Studies in Resilience and Vulnerability
Publication Year: 2014
The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context offers new insights into the complicated series of events that impacted the decline of Maya civilization. This significant contribution to our increasingly comprehensive understanding of ancient Maya culture will be of interest to students and scholars of archaeology, anthropology, geography, and environmental studies.
Published by: University Press of Colorado
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This volume examines the developmental trajectory of ancient Maya civilization, with particular emphasis on two themes: climate change, specifically droughts, and what are deemed to have been a series of periodic “collapses,” including the infamous Terminal Classic collapse...
2: The Dynamics of Ancient Maya Developmental History
James Aimers and Gyles Iannone
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Recently, a growing number of environmental scientists and archaeologists have invoked droughts to explain what have long been considered to be the most famous episodes of demographic or political decline in ancient Maya history, including the Late Preclassic abandonments, a Middle Classic “hiatus,” a Terminal...
3: Assessing the Great Maya Droughts
Gyles Iannone, Jason Yaeger, and David Hodell
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For over thirty years a case has been building to suggest that various “collapses” occurred in the Maya subarea in the past and that all of these cultural declines were the result of periodic and devastating “megadroughts”—a particular type of drought characterized by “extensive duration and magnitude” (Hunt and Elliott 2002:1). This “megadrought” model is founded on an array of...
4: Agricultural Landscapes, Deforestation, and Drought Severity
Robert Griffin, Robert Oglesby, Thomas Sever, and Udaysankar Nair
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Widespread deforestation can adversely affect the habitability of a landscape. In fact, the removal of tree cover should be viewed on par with global climate patterns for determining the water cycle in a region, particularly in the central portion of the Maya Lowlands. This premise justifies a study of ancient Maya land...
5: Climate Change in the Ancient Maya Forest
Anabel Ford and Ronald Nigh
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Mesoamerica and the Maya lowlands (Figure 5.1) have been home to humans since the first peopling of the Americas. Economic botanists, ecologists, and ethnologists have recognized this long and entwined relationship from the anthropogenic qualities of, and interactions with, the Maya forest (Atran 2003; Atran et al...
6: The End of the Beginning
Nicholas Dunning, David Wahl, Timothy Beach, John Jones, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, and Carmen McCane
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The Classic Maya “collapse” (or the “transitions and transformations” of the Terminal Classic period) has generated endless discussion since it was first detected in the calendrical record of Maya inscriptions many decades ago. More recently, advances in Maya archaeology have illuminated earlier disruptions...
7: A Tale of Three Cities
Bruce H. Dahlin and Arlen F. Chase
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Directly linking climate change and cultural change is difficult. However, it is occasionally possible to link extraordinary climatic events to the archaeological record. The AD 536 event is such an instance. Given its global reach, impact from the AD 536 event had to have been felt in the Maya area. The archaeological...
8: Collapse without Drought
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The current focus by some researchers on drought as the causal factor in the transformation of Maya civilization in the Late and Terminal Classic periods has its origins in a lake core extracted from Lake Chichancanab, Mexico (Hodell, Curtis, and Brenner 1995). This was not the first time that climate change in general, or...
9: The Classic Maya Collapse, Water, and Economic Change in Mesoamerica
Arthur A. Demarest
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Many previous discussions of the end of Classic period Maya civilization have failed to address the collapse issues in broader theoretical and culture historical perspectives. They also often have been unaware of the great variability in chronology and the layered nature of causality over the nearly three centuries of the process of termination of the Classic Maya political system...
10: Water in the West
Andrew K. Scherer and Charles Golden
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This chapter is concerned with the problem of political collapse of the Classic period (ca. AD 250–900) Maya kingdoms of the western lowlands, a region that includes the extreme western edge of the Peten, Guatemala, northeastern Chiapas, Mexico, and much of Tabasco, Mexico. During the Classic period this area...
11: Oxygen Isotopes from Maya Archaeological Deer Remains
Antoine Repussard, Henry P. Schwarcz, Kitty F. Emery, and Erin Kennedy Thornton
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An increasing number of studies support the concordance between dry episodes in the Circum-Caribbean Basin and the political disruption of Maya society at the end of the Terminal Classic, during the period often called the “Classic Collapse” (e.g., Haug et al. 2003; Hodell, Brenner, and Curtis 2007; Neff et al. 2006). However, the exact sequence of events and...
12: The Prehistoric Maya of Northern Belize
Fred Valdez and Vernon Scarborough
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The environmental history of the Maya lowlands indicates that various drought episodes occurred during the course of Maya Civilization. The likely droughts have been discussed in detail elsewhere (Gill 2000; Webster 2002a), and serve as the basis for discussions concerning adaptations and developments among the prehistoric...
13: An Archaeological Consideration of Long-Term Socioecological Dynamics on the Vaca Plateau, Belize
Gyles Iannone, Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, Jaime Awe, Holley Moyes, George Brook, Jason Polk, James Webster, and James Conolly
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In recent years, a number of eminent scholars have urged archaeologists to focus more attention on the examination of long-term socioecological dynamics, particularly because they believe that such research will generate insights that will be crucial as contemporary society attempts to deal with issues such as declining resources...
14: Tracking Climate Changein the Ancient Maya World through Zooarchaeological Habitat Analyses
Kitty F. Emery and Erin Kennedy Thornton
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Paleolimnological and paleoclimatological research has recently presented compelling arguments for alternating periods of dry and moist conditions throughout the history of occupation of Mesoamerica, and has effectively linked these to global climate phenomena. Certain periods of reduced precipitation have been suggested as correlating with (Brenner et al. 2002; Gill...
15: Maya Drought and Niche Inheritance
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Two brief anecdotes to begin. First, I’ve lately been afflicted by filmmakers wanting advice about the Classic Maya collapse, probably because the (supposedly) doomsday year 2012 looms on their radar. Most recently I was called by a London filmmaker who was doing a program about drought and the collapse. He asked me: “Which big Maya site should I focus on...
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Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2014