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Disappearance of the Ancient Mayan Civilization Essay

During A.D. 300 and 900 mayans flourished through much of Central America and in Yacatan in Southeren Mexico. It is said that there could be many reasons for the dissappearance, or the decline of the Ancient Mayan Civiliztion. There are many theories about the mayan civilization that some think was due to lack of food, frequent warfare, and over population. The decline started around A.D. 900, the Mayas left thier stone palaces and abandond their cities. That soon was barred by the jungle but the so called “lost city” was not rediscovered until modern times. No one really knows why or how the Mayas declined or left their city. However the loss, the Mayan culture has survived still to today, and with many people in Guatemala and southern Mexico descendents they speak the Mayan languages.

Lake Chichancanab’s in Mexico, meaning “Little sea” has helped us to understand a bit about the environment in the region where the Mayans lived. David Hodell, Mark Brenner and Jason Curtis took core samples from Lake Chichancanab. The data from the core samples indicated significant meteorological changes during the same time that the Maya’s life took a dramatic turn for the worse.

Lake Chichancanab gets it’s name the “Little Sea” from its saltiness, which is saturated with gypsum. So when the lake water evaporates during dry periods the gypsum settles to the lakes bottom, memorializing that drought in the sediments. Having this record of gypsum helped the Land Use and Enviromental Change Institute, determine how far appart these droughts were.

The geoloists of the University of Florida needed the climate conditions around Lake Chichancanab to help answer their questions about the Mayas decline. The May 2000 expedition to Chichancanab. was the second team that made it to the region. The 1993 samples helped the geologists determine that between 800 and 1000 A.D. was thier driest draught in 7,000 years.

Since the 1993 samples, lacked detail in the technology study. With no clue to the earlier research on the draught causes resulted in further investagation. So with their funding from the National Science Foundation Paleoclimate Program they returned to Laguna and Lake Chichancanab in 2000 for more samples. With these samples they found a considerable amount of seeds and organic matter to date using radiocarbon techniques, the new technology and dates helped them to determine more accurately timed chronolgy of the droughts.

With the new core and high-resolution density records they were able to detect the cycles in the record. They found a recurring cycle of the recurring droughts for every 208 years. But since it was close to the 206 year variations in the solar intensity it was thought that was the reason for the droughts. Between 750 and 900A.D. the mayan civilization all but disappeared. Archaeologists and historians have debated the decline of the Mayans for centuries. With a primary thought of social upheaval as the root cause.

Only recently, have they related it to physical science like the UF researchers who entered the fray. Having the evidence of the fact that the Mayans could precisely measure the movements of the moon, sun and planets; they were unaware of any evidence about the bicentennial cycle that ultimately may have played a role in their downfall. One of the geologists Hodell, said “It’s ironic that a culture so obsessed with keeping track of celestial movements may have met its demise because of a solar cycle.”

Another theory came from a Professor Amos Nur from San Francisco who came to the conclusion that the Mayan decline could have been from killer earth quakes. Killer earth quakes have been the collapse of many civilizations in history, ranging from Troy to the Mayans of Central America.Scientists who thought that the science and archeology were contrasting seismic and human historical records in an effect helped to shed light on some of the great mysteries from the past.The end of the Bronze Age where cities of Mycenae, Troy, and Knossos were literally wiped from the map around 1200 B.C. Is where Nur gathered his theory. Other scientists briefing the AGU took the theory futher, suggesting maybe eath quakes of the past caused the collapse of these civilizations. Ranging from the Mayan Classic Period in central America in the 9th century A.D. and the Harappan of India’s indus River valley in 1900 B.C.

Nur and Prasad, looking at the regions seismic history found numerous¬†catastrophic earth quakes have periodically struck the coastal region. But according to theory more seismic events could have moved enough earth to dam one of the major rivers, leading to floods which covered some of there cities in silt. Kovach’s research shows the both cities of mayan culture in the classic period could have been leveled by one earth quake on the motagua fault zones and chixoy-polochic. Stanford geophysicist Robert Kovach is applying the same thoery to the Mayans that Nur has . Due to one phase that ended when the cities of Quirigua and BenqueViejo which were abandoned all of a sudden in the late 9th century.

With most of the cities of the central lowlands abandoned. Ecological depletion of croplands, drought, and warfare are some factors that are usually suggested as reasons for the decline of the Mayan civilization. So in conclusion, whether the Mayans just up and moved, or if they all died of drought, or perhaps they just slowly collapsed due to earth quakes; the Mayan civilization was very advanced for its time and is constantly being argued about. To be able to truly tell what happened has so far come to a fault as no one is quite sure. Perhaps one day we will know for certain and we shall learn from their experience but until then they are still one of the worlds greatest mysteries to this date.


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