The Maya Collapse

1229 Words 5 Pages
The Maya was an ancient civilization renowned for their remarkable architecture as well as their exceptional knowledge in astronomy and mathematics (Peterson and Haug 2005, 322). Reaching their population peak around 750 A.D, the Maya experienced societal collapse between 750 and 950 A.D (Peterson and Haug 2005, 322), the cause of the collapse remaining a heavily debated topic today by archaeologists. This essay will argue that the primary contributing factor of the Maya collapse was drought; proven by the occurrence of droughts throughout the area, the region’s unique terrain and the impact of drought on the Maya’s political structure. To begin, the hypothesis that drought was the most crucial factor in the Maya collapse requires the coexistence …show more content…
Some have suggested that the most crucial factor to the collapse was political instability (Golden and Scherer 2013, 398). Charles Golden and Andrew Scherer argue that the act of expansion and transformation of states into territorial polities resulted in loss of trade, tribute and socio-political interaction with the people and their leaders (Golden and Scherer 2013, 415). Moreover, Golden and Scherer argue that the expansion and transformation of states resulted in loss of trust between the people and their leaders throughout the civilization, thus causing the collapse. (Golden and Scherer 2013, 403). While this proposes an interesting argument, the ability of loss of trust to collapse a civilization as sophisticated as the Maya seems unlikely; political reformation or population deduction as a result of citizen relocation, yes, but the total collapse of the civilization appears unlikely. In addition, evidence shows that the ruling Maya elite exploited the area’s water reserves by controlling the distribution to the people in order to create a centralized source of political authority (Peterson and Haug 2005, 328). Thus, droughts would have impacted politics since the lack of rainfall would result in barren reservoirs and therefore, eliminate a source of authority the ruling class held over the common people. Not only would lack of water to distribute eliminate a source of …show more content…
It is wise for present societies to understanding the causes of collapse for past civilizations because the knowledge can better equip present societies on how to proceed in certain situations, thus allowing the continued success of the society. In terms of the Maya, present society may assess their water availability and explore new methods to obtain water-for example, discover a new water source or experiment with the potential of salt water to convert into fresh water-so that in case severe, long-lasting droughts occur, they will not suffer the same fate as the

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