Maya civilization

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The Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization that lasted in its Classic Period and its Postclassic Period from about 250 AD to almost 1700 AD. The Mayan Region covers roughly 320,000 square kilometers (125,000 square miles).


  • For more than ten centuries until A.D. 900, the Maya flourished in the lowlands of Central America, reaching a population near ten million and reliant on delicate water management in a drought-prone terrain. Like the great civilizations of the Indus, Tigris-Euphrates, Nile, and Yellow rivers, the Maya could overcome droughts that stretched years or even decades. But a three-hundred-year dearth of rain—lake-bed cores show that it lasted from 750 to 1050—proved too much.
  • For many centuries before Christ to about AD 900, the lowland Maya civilization achieved its apogee in the Petén forest of northern Guatemala and the adjacent portions of Mexico, Belize, and western Honduras, what today we call the "Maya lowlands" ... For over 1,500 years, this region was covered by a network of kingdoms dominated by "holy lords," sacred kings who were linked by complex ties of kinship, ritual, trade, and military alliance. Their political and religious centers included great acropoli of massed palaces, temples, stone tombs, and ballcourts. These centers of power and pageantry were supported by thousands of farmers who practiced a complex system rain forest agriculture—a system which only is beginning to be understood.
  • The origin of the Maya civilization is lost in the remote past, not even the shadowy half lights of tradition illumining its beginnings. The very earliest inscriptions literally burst upon us fully formed, the flower of long-continued observations expressed in a graphic system of exceeding intricacy. It seems probable indeed, judging from the complexity of the earliest texts, which are in stone, that the hieroglyphic writing must have been developed on some perishable medium, such as wood or fiber paper or parchment, the destruction of which by natural processes would satisfactorily explain the entire absence of its earlier stages.
  • Neglect in protecting our heritage of natural resources could prove extremely harmful for the human race and for all species that share common space on planet earth. Indeed, there are many lessons in human history which provide adequate warning about the chaos and destruction that could take place if we remain guilty of myopic indifference to the progressive erosion and decline of nature’s resources. Much has been written, for instance, about the Maya civilization, which flourished during 250–950 AD, but collapsed largely as a result of serious and prolonged drought. Even earlier, some 4000 years ago a number of well-known Bronze Age cultures also crumbled extending from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley, including the civilizations, which had blossomed in Mesopotamia. More recent examples of societies that collapsed or faced chaos on account of depletion or degradation of natural resources include the Khmer Empire in South East Asia, Eastern Island, and several others. Changes in climate have historically determined periods of peace as well as conflict. The recent work of David Zhang has, in fact, highlighted the link between temperature fluctuations, reduced agricultural production, and the frequency of warfare in Eastern China over the last millennium. Further, in recent years several groups have studied the link between climate and security. These have raised the threat of dramatic population migration, conflict, and war over water and other resources as well as a realignment of power among nations. Some also highlight the possibility of rising tensions between rich and poor nations, health problems caused particularly by water shortages, and crop failures as well as concerns over nuclear proliferation.

Encyclopedic article on Maya civilization on Wikipedia