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Theories for the decline of the Mayan Civilisations

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The Maya were a flourishing South American civilisation of the Classic Period (from 300 AD to 900 AD). Evidence has shown that the Mayans were a sophisticated, intelligent society; they were developed in astronomy, calendar systems, architecture, agriculture, hieroglyphic writing and had a thriving pagan religion. Around 900 AD it is evident that there was a decline in the civilisation and the Mayan cities were abandoned. The reasoning for the disappearance of the Mayan civilisation has remained a mystery to the historical world. But Mayan historians and archaeologists have put forward various theories that could be the key to unlocking the mystery of the Mayan civilisation. One of the most popular theories to the Mayan disappearance was that with the rapidly growing population and severe drought, the land became incapable of fulfilling the needs of the Mayans. It is evident that the Mayans were densely populated with evidence of population densities of 2,600 people per square mile. ...read more.


His research confirmed that the area was subject to deforestation, soil erosion and drought. This evidence is again reliable as it is again, scientific environmental evidence. Furthermore, David A. Hodell, a scientist from the University of Florida conducted research on the sediment cores surrounding the area of the Maya, indicated a period of increased dryness during about 800 AD. The Mayans were extremely dependent on slave labour and another popular theory concerning the disappearance of the Mayans is that of a peasant revolt and, warfare. The Mayan nation had three distinct classes. The majority of the people were the farmers. The farmers had rights no better than slaves and performed hard labour. The middle class consisted of professionals, artisans and merchants. They expected respect from the farmers and were rich in wealth. The smallest layer of the Mayan social structure was the ruling noble class. These nobles were the top of society and were extremely rich and were seen as descendants from the gods. ...read more.


Though this theory is somewhat logical, it lacks substantial evidence. This evidence is somewhat biased to Sir Thompson's opinion; it is circumstantial evidence. There is no clear indication that the infrastructures were abandoned because of peasant revolt as it may have been damaged by the environment or warfare. Though both theories have been supported by various archaeologists and historians, the drought and subsequent lack of resources theory is the more plausible theory. The peasant revolt theory whilst being quite logical lacks substantial evidence to back up the theory. The evidence that most historians put forward to prove the peasant revolt theory is indirect and unconvincing; it is not reliable. The drought theory is a much more accurate theory with scientific evidence from modern day experiments to support it. Although it is the more credible between the two, it raises various questions. Many civilisations were able to overcome drought, why were the Mayans an exception? The mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Mayans has puzzled historians for many years and with much evidence having been lost with time it seems that they Mayan disappearance mystery will continue to puzzle not only historians but the world. ...read more.

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