Mayan Collapse

26 Jan 2017

This story is crawling all over the Internet this week and see http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/winter-2017/article/archaeologists-... ... which is a bit of a non story as all they appear to have done is come up with two sets of dates when things went wrong for the Maya. Instead of a gradual decline, as in previous studies, the contention in this research is that it occurred primarily at two points in time (possibly by narrowing down C14 methodology to tweek the specifics). The dates that emerge from the research are interesting as they compare with problems in the Old World at roughly the same time. The problem though is that it concerns a single Maya city in Guatemala - and not the Mayan world as a whole. 

Instead of a period of decline they have delineated two phases of collapse episodes. The collapse of the Classic Maya period in the 9th century AD coincides with stagnation and dynastic change in China and the emergent Arab empire, as well as Viking raids in NW Europe etc. In the 10th century the medieval warm period kicked in and life got better - but why did that not happen in the Mayan lands. It did after the first collapse, which the new research dates to the 2nd century AD. This was apogee of the Roman empire and the Roman warm period was still potent. However, in the 3rd century AD the warm period came to an abrupt end and cool weather kicked in and the empire never really recovered thereafter. Han China also collapsed, and the Persians experienced severe problems too. Why did the Maya collapse happen earlier? That is an intriguing question that may indicate that climate was not necessarily the driving force for the collapses as suggested in earlier research. Did the tropical rain belt shift away from Guatemala? - if so why didn't the cities rise again when the rain belt returned to normal?  9th century AD coincides with stagnation and dynastic change in China and the emergent Arab empire, as well as Viking raids in NW Europe etc. In the 10th century the medieval warm period kicked in and life got better - but why did that not happen in the Mayan lands. It did after the first collapse, which the new research dates to the 2nd century AD. This was apogee of the Roman empire and the Roman warm period was still potent. However, in the 3rd century AD the warm period came to an abrupt end and cool weather kicked in and the empire never really recovered thereafter. Han China also collapsed, and the Persians experienced severe problems too. Why did the Maya collapse happen earlier? That is an intriguing question that may indicate that climate was not necessarily the driving force for the collapses as suggested in earlier research. Did the tropical rain belt shift away from Guatemala? - if so why didn't the cities rise again when the rain belt returned to normal?  

William Thompson sent in the link to the same story at www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/researchers-uncover-new-clues-about-mayan-c... ...