The Fate of the Maya

Only 500 years has passed since Europeans discovered this part of the world.  Yet when they arrived previous civilizations had been already been born where warring factions arose to power, kingdoms flourished and prospered, and then for unknown reasons disappeared into the humid jungles of Central America.  The mystique of the vanishing Maya has attracted speculation and awe as they were once one of the most advanced Meso-American civilizations possessing writing, a calendar, and written inscriptions into temples that give us insight into their history.  Yet little is known of what lead to their demise, where archaeologists have long suspected that a combination of multiple factors led to their disappearance.  Overpopulation has been suggested as one of the culprits – for example in the peak of the Classic period it has been estimated over 1 million Maya live in Belize when compared to the modern population of 330,000.  A recent series of research papers listed here and here look into how deforestation may have led to exacerbate the effects of an already existing drought using new methods to confirm previous archaeological theories.  While wandering through the ruins I wonder what imprint will we leave if we are doomed to repeat a similar fate.  Much of the wildlife remains – yet the Maya do not.

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