Mar 1, 2012, 5:00 PM
Post #4 of 5
The BBC report paints with a very broad brush. Many Maya sites that collapsed had abundant sources of surface water - not like the northern Yucatan sites that depended on ground water in cenotes.
Re: [tonyburton] Why did the Maya civilization "collapse" (so to speak)?
Can't Post | Private Reply
I think there were other significant dominoes that were already in place - such that a minor drought stress played in concert with a number of other big dominoes.
Has anyone out there read the treatise on how much firewood it took to stoke all the cooking fires and the even-more wood-intensive practice of making tons of lime-plaster to stucco all the Maya pyramids, plazas, buildings, and palaces?
If you take the number of inhabitants for each of the Maya city states, and calculate how much firewood they consumed just to cook the limestone to make lime to stucco and plaster all the floors, walls, plazas, palaces, and buildings - versus - how quickly the jungle regrows - and then add in the cooking fires (no Zee gas or Delta gas or 'lectric stoves or microwaves in those days) - it quickly becomes apparent that basic thermodynamics and population sizes prove that the Maya denuded their forests for very large areas around their major cities...
This makes the same ultimate point as the scientific authors quoted above - but does not rely so heavily on speculation - and it is not offered as an overly simplified single-cause / single-effect relationship as used above to describe the fall of Maya cities and city states. Single Cause: Drought - Single Effect: Collapse of Maya Cities or Collapse of Maya Civilization across a wide area of very different climatic regions.
Singe-cause single-effect - dyadic relationships & solutions are appealing to humans because they neatly oversimplify potentially messy bits of life - taking complex multi-causal realities and making them manageable by offering seductive neat tidy characterizations: tall/short - good/bad - asleep/awake - Democrat/Republican - wrong/right - thin/fat - black/white - Liberal/Conservative - yada yada yada...
If one combines the effects of 100's of years of Maya activities at individual sites - where they denude the surrounding jungles for kilometers for firewood and crops - and outstrip the rainfall, use-up the soil's productivity, cut down their easily accessible firewood, have NO beasts of burden to haul loads and not even simple carts nor wagons... wasting 1,000's of Maya workers daily efforts to haul wood, haul food, and haul water every day just to sustain the activities of their overgrown cities...
...then it becomes plain that the the big denuded areas become heat islands that start to affect the local weather, in addition to a number of other pre-existing realities.
Toss in the underlying instabilities of their living systems caused by:
~ too many people concentrated in too small an area with marginal agricultural support,
~ too many people consuming all local and then relatively far-off marginal firewood supplies,
~ these "brilliant" people push their resources well beyond their capabilities, and they do not develop appropriate solutions, (never converting their children's wheeled toy carts into useful & necessary adult tools),
~ the "brilliant" leaders and people continue repeating the same mistakes over and over, on ever-grander scales, because "that's how we've always done it",
~ people's efforts focused on government public works projects of building huge platforms, huge buildings, elaborate palaces, etc, versus sustainable farming, hunting, and activities that feed & support their families,
~ decision making being driven and exclusively controlled by a small number of elite
~ the elite people living in palaces making non-beneficial choices for the ordinary workers
~ elitist decisions that push ideological &/or religious agendas ahead of the what the society really needs....
~ generations of elitists pushing society into lifestyles that overuse and exhaust limited resources...
Hmmmm.... Is it really about some brief drought? Or some short shift in the climate or rainfall?
Were there many dominoes already set-up in neat rows - ready to be toppled en mass by a minor event?
or Maybe their beliefs in the Gods, the Maya Calender, and bad leadership of the Priests, Warriors, and Rulers were the major cause of setting-up, creating, and expanding all the unsustainable - easily-toppled systems.**
Do any of the factors listed above have any modern parallels?
To me this is a beautiful example of someone (the academic researchers) hacking through the jungle - discovering a small temple or small hill - without looking up and out to see the greater mountains in their background. The "discoverer" then trumpets his big latest discovery to the world:
"Drought caused the Maya Civilizations to Crumble !"
... ignoring at least 10 other big precariously-teetering unstable dominoes already in place.
A breeze topples a house of cards - and some people claim that: "Breezes knock down houses!"
Academics are particularly prone to trumpeting their latest recognition as the definitive solution or best insight - where publication of "novel ideas" is critical to furthering academic advancement. Should we jump aboard the latest express train of a clever idea or bit of data, thinking it is the only and exclusive route to understanding?
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com