Climate Change And Trade Networks Essay

1544 Words Dec 4th, 2016 7 Pages
Climate Change and Trade Networks as Causes of the Classic Maya Collapse

The ancient Lowland Maya were a thriving and advanced society, capable of building great monuments able to survive to the present. It is therefore a mystery as to why, at the end of the Classic period from the eighth to eleventh century, Maya sites show signs of massive decline and desertion; this is referred to as the “collapse” of the Maya, though it was not an immediate or evenly distributed phenomenon (Douglas, Demarest, Brenner, & Canuto, 2016, 614, 634). Several theories as to the causes of the collapse have been suggested. One points to severe droughts caused by climate change during this period (Douglas et al., 2016), while another suggests changes in trade networks played a role (Golitko, Meierhoff, Feinman, & Williams, 2012). While collapse was likely caused by multiple influences, this paper argues that the shift from inland trade routes to coastal trade routes and the resulting effects on Maya economies had a greater influence on the collapse of Classic Lowland Maya societies than the severe droughts generated by climate change did. Shifting trade routes was, arguably, more influential for various reasons, one being the timing of trade changes and droughts in relation to collapse. The study by Golitko et al. (2012) examined obsidian distribution—a material valuable to the Maya which can easily be traced to its source—in order to map trade routes during the Classic, Terminal Classic, and…

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