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The Fall of the Mayan Empire

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The Fall of the Mayan Empire
Naomi M. Cranfield
Prof. Hunsucker
Hum 111
February 2, 2013

The Maya civilization was several independent city states which shared a cultural heritage of language, customs, dress, artistic style and material culture. They were located in the Central American continent, to include parts of Belize, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. It was an area of approximately 150,000 square miles. Some of the better known city states were Tikal, Calakmul, Caracol and Dos Pilas. There were several strong kings at those locations, but none of them ever truly conquered the others. The city states traded with one another, and they also warred with one another from time to time. The population has been estimated to have been millions. In the 1600s, the Spanish reported that there were approximately 600,000 people living in the Yucatan peninsula alone. Each of the larger cities probably had populations in excess of 100,000. That doesn't count the rural sectors that supported the larger cities. But what happened to such a large culture that they seemed to have disappeared in such a short span of time?
There have been so many concepts as to why the Maya civilization fell, but one of the more interesting and in my opinion more plausible beliefs has to do with a severe change in climate. ("The rise and," 2004) “Tom Sever, NASA's only archeologist, has been using satellites to examine the Mayan ruins. Combining those data with conventional down-in-the-dirt archeological findings, Sever and others have managed to piece together much of what happened.” Scientists have found that around the time of the Mayan collapse, tree pollen had all but completely disappeared and was replaced with pollen from weeds and had virtually become deforested. Erosion had worsened and warmer temperatures had dried out the land. Rainfall patterns changed…...

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