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Did the Maya collapse?

6 July 2012

At http://www.popular-archaeology/issue/june-2012/article/classic-maya-coll… … the collapse of Classic Maya civilisation is an idea that has been replicated so many times that it has become a factoid. Now, some anthropologists are beginning to question the archaeological consensus. They are saying it did not collapse – but was transformed. Anthropologists tend to look at things quite differently to archaeologists. From the latter perspective the disappearance of the great cities and monumental architecture is evidence of a collapse of the civilisation – but anthropologists differ. To them a switch to a different kind of a society is not a collapse. It is a matter of interpretation of the facts. Anthropology is not structured like archaeology – or any of the hard sciences. It is a social science. Do we need to take notice of this change of perspective? The consensus view seems to blame climate change for the collapse – or disappearance of the cities and their temples and kingship etc. Or, rather, one of the causes of the collapse because nobody really knows why the Maya ceased to do such things. We do know the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, a tropical rainfall belt, shifted during the 9th and 10th centuries, but there is evidence the Classic Maya may have survived into the 11th century – so it is all a mystery. The rise and blossoming of the Classic Maya period coincides with the rise and deflation of the Islamic empire in the same centuries, the blossoming of Carolingian France, and a series of cool and wet climate periods in NW Europe which appear to have a connection with a shift in the Jet Stream. As we are witnessing this year, and a few years back, the Jet Stream, which is normally at the top of Scotland, can bring an awful lot of the wet stuff when it shifts southwards. It makes sense that if the Jet Stream shifted so too did the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (this was found also in the Galapagos Islands, which is sometimes wet and sometimes very dry, depending on the position of ITCZ). As such, it would have impacted on the monsoon system and therefore affected Egypt, the Near and Middle East, and even India and China. So, the cause of the Maya switch (or collapse) remains open – were the gods deemed unreliable, and the kings as the representatives of the gods etc.?

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