YTread Logo
YTread Logo

Ancient Apocalypse: Rise and Fall of the Maya Civilization | Full Documentary

Mar 29, 2024


. When an entire town is destroyed. Or destroy themselves. The end of


. For us today, as we go about our daily lives, it is hardly something we consider. We are so sure it couldn't happen to us. But for some


s... already has been. The remains of great kingdoms, empires and civilizations spread throughout the world. The


Egyptian kingdom, the Roman Empire, the Sumerians. Drought, conflict, collapse. We know the story of his


and also of his


. But one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen still holds mysteries for archaeologists. The Mayan civilization.
ancient apocalypse rise and fall of the maya civilization full documentary
For nearly 3,000 years, the Mayans thrived in the rainforests of Central America. Their civilization evolved not as a centralized empire but as a series of rival city-states, all with common languages, religion, and architecture. At their peak, in 500 AD, great stone cities covered the Yucatan Peninsula and their heart was in the southern lowlands of Guatemala. WOMAN: The Mayan civilization just explodes. More buildings are being built, cities are getting bigger, art is becoming more complex. They have sports, they have stadiums. They are capable of making observations and perfectly tracing the movement of the stars. They had developed an understanding of science and mathematics that far exceeded that of the Western world at the time.
ancient apocalypse rise and fall of the maya civilization full documentary

More Interesting Facts About,

ancient apocalypse rise and fall of the maya civilization full documentary...

His astronomy and mathematics were incredible. They have a monument and the whole back is covered in glyphs, it's a giant mathematical table. Multiplying by billions. At the heart of each Mayan city there was a divine king. A holy lord who was believed to be able to communicate with the ancestors and gods, ensuring the survival of his people. An offering of his own blood and the blood of others in the form of human sacrifice ensured this. Civilization reached a spectacular height. But by 900 CE, its great cities were abandoned. And the Mayan people practically disappear. We wonder what happened to the Mayan civilization?
ancient apocalypse rise and fall of the maya civilization full documentary
Europeans first encountered the people of Central America in the early 16th century. In 1519, the Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, began the colonization of this new world. They were driven by their promise of great mineral wealth. But they also found a people ripe for conversion to Christianity. MAN: The Spanish conquistadors were driven by two things. One was gold. No doubt about it. And the other was that they were extremely religious. Catholic. And they wanted to spread the word of God and the Catholic Church. Along the edges of the Yucatan Peninsula, they encountered a small, disparate population of indigenous people known as the Mayans.
ancient apocalypse rise and fall of the maya civilization full documentary
The conquistadors were fanatical in the way they conveyed the message of the Bible. Bishop Diego de Landa was incredibly cruel in the way he perpetrated his religion among the people. He tortured them. He burned his books, they have wonderful books made of deerskin and tree bark that they used to write their local myths. He needed to destroy the culture that prevented them from seeing the true path to Christ. Originally, there would be thousands of these bark paper books and he gathered all the bark paper books he could and burned them in a huge bonfire. But the Spanish found it much more difficult to destroy the ruins of the huge stone cities they found in Yucatán.
As the centuries passed and the jungles were explored, more and more of these mysterious stone cities were reported. In the early 19th century, the first widely read account of these discoveries reached Europe. The report by Spanish author Antonio del Río causes a sensation. He describes abandoned cities overgrown with weeds and hidden by vegetation throughout Central America. Among those who read it are the archaeologists and amateur explorers John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. They are mesmerized by stories of a lost world consumed by the rainforest. Who built these stone monuments claimed by the jungle? Why were they abandoned?
To the archaeological establishment, it seemed impossible that the indigenous people of the region, known as Mayans, could be responsible. The establishment at the time saw these pyramids and saw these things that looked a lot like hieroglyphics, and they thought, "Could this be made by the


Egyptians" or maybe it was the Phoenicians? "It couldn't have been the locals." Stephens and Catherwood were stunned by the sight of the establishment. They knew they could not be anything other than a native Central American civilization. To them, it is clear that these ruins are the remains of an ancient Mesoamerican civilization.
They set out to test their theory. But why have they been left in the jungle? Could they find any evidence as to why these cities had been abandoned? Stephens and Catherwood, armed with only a few descriptions, decide to go down and find these lost cities in the middle of the rainforest. Central America was in the middle of a civil war. It was extremely dangerous, there were bandits. It was wild. Stevens and Catherwood were armed to the teeth. Their mission begins in Honduras, at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula. Each had two pistols and swords; They were prepared.
This was dangerous terrain. And they would soon discover how dangerous a civil war could be for foreign travelers. They were a little naïve to think, "We'll just fight our way through this." hostages and detained overnight in very dangerous circumstances that they did not know they would leave. The next morning, the soldiers are sober and free to continue their journey. Their greatest threat is not the civil war, but the terrain of. Central America. I don't know if you've seen the mountains in this region, but they're almost cliffs and these guys were walking through the heat, the bugs, the discomfort.
But Stephens and Catherwood finally locate the first stone ruins near the city. The two did not waste time and hired local tribes to clear the dense vegetation. They realized that their adventure was worth it. It was electrifying. It left them breathless. They found monuments, pyramids, temples and houses made of stone. It was a revelation. It was amazing. And as Stephens and Catherwood continue their journey, it becomes clear that this first site is not unique. Hidden beneath the rainforest, they discover stone city after stone city. The scale of the construction is impressive. And throughout the sites, they discover intricate carvings, what appear to them to be hieroglyphs.
This is an entire civilization that shares a common iconography. And not only that, they realize that none of this iconography is like anything they've ever seen before. Yes, they may be hieroglyphs, but they are nothing like Egyptian hieroglyphs, this is completely new. And this must come from the Mesoamericans themselves. They cut, climb and scrape through nearly 5,000 kilometers of rainforest and discover some of the largest Mayan cities ever built. From Kabah and Palenque in the south, to Tulum, Uxmal and Chichén Itzá in the north of the Yucatán Peninsula. In total, they identify 44 Mayan sites. And the similarities in architecture, art, and carved glyphs between the separate cities show that it is the work of a single people.
The Mayan civilization. When they publish, their work causes a sensation. The books were bestsellers. Stephens is a brilliant author. And the illustrations, of course, simply impressed the popular mind. It was a sensation. They were the archaeological celebrities of his time. But his findings raise more questions than they answer. What had happened to these people? What could cause the collapse of an entire civilization? And when did it happen? (SUPPORTED NOTE) If early archaeologists could find a way to date the Mayan civilization, they could determine when it collapsed. There could be clues in Mayan glyphs found carved in stone throughout the civilization.
The problem was that no one could read them. The task of decoding the glyphs is made even more difficult due to the actions of the fanatical Spanish conquistadors centuries before. Priceless secrets to unlocking the Mayan writing system burst into flames when their books were burned. The first archaeologists who attempted to decode the Mayan glyphs were forced to start from scratch. Almost. Some copies of his books still survive. Could they help uncover the mystery of the glyphs? The archaeological world is very lucky that Ernst Förstemann worked at the Dresden Library. The Royal Library in Dresden contained one of only four Mayan books that had been saved from the Spanish flames.
It is known as the Dresden Codex. When Förstemann began working on the Dresden Codex, he was already drawing on the knowledge of others. They already knew that the Dresden Codex was about the Mayan vision of astronomy and their calendar. But no one was sure how. Since much of their writing system is indecipherable, decoding their calendar could be the crucial first step in understanding when the Mayans lived and when they collapsed. Förstemann accepts the challenge. Förstemann discovered that some of the glyphs represented numbers and were not just mathematical counts, they were actually dates. As a mathematician, Förstemann realized that Mayan dates counted as only five numbers separated by dots.
Now this measures really huge periods of time. The rightmost number is what the Mayans call 'K'in' and shows the days. The following is a 'Winal' and represents a period of 20 days. The next is a Tun and that counts years, and the next is a K'atun which is blocks of 20 years. The next one, the fifth, is a Bak'tun. 20 periods of 20 years each. Which is 144,000 days. Or a little less than 400 years when it started again. It was a great advance. Archaeologists finally understood not only how the Mayans counted time, but also how to date their history. The dates of the appearance of a solar eclipse had been noted in the Dresden Codex.
A historical event of a solar eclipse is something that astronomers can calculate using our own calendar. If you can find that date and the Mayan date for the eclipse, you can sync the two. And astronomers found a coincidence: a solar eclipse recorded in the Dresden Codex on July 16, 790 AD. The Mayan calendar and ours were synchronized. Archaeologists began to see dates chiseled into stone at sites throughout the Mayan world. Dates were carved on the sides of monuments and the sides of temples. They were absolutely everywhere. Now that archaeologists could read Mayan dates, they turned their attention to their writing system.
A particular type of carved monument caught his attention. Archaeologists had long suspected that the stelae (the stone tablets that had been erected outside the temples) represented some kind of story of gods or kings, some kind of important figures. Could the Mayans have recorded any clues as to what caused their disappearance? The problem was that, although the Mayan calendar had been decoded, this was only a small part of their writing system. The vast majority of its glyphs remained indecipherable. If they could crack this code, then they could understand so much about what the people who built these cities considered so important that they would engrave it in stone.
For more than 100 years, archaeologists attempted to completely decipher the Mayan glyphs. More than 800 individual glyphs were identified and researchers suspected that the writing system was logosyllabic, a mixture of logograms where a symbol represents a separate word and syllagrams where each symbol represents spoken sounds and combines to spell out complete words. But with so many individual glyphs, the system was too complex. The Mayan code remained indecipherable. Until the 1980s, 15-year-old David Stewart accepted the challenge. After centuries of failure, what chance did a schoolboy have? When he was a child, he grew up exploring Mesoamerican ruins because his father worked for the National Geographic Society.
And when new temple complexes were discovered, this boy, David, would sit down with his crayons and his sketchbook and draw the glyphs too. And he meant that he had as deep a knowledge of the Mayan writing systems as all the experts in the world. But like experts before him, Stewart couldn't overcome the complexity of the language. With over 800 individual symbols, there were too many for each to represent a spoken syllable. But the large number of glyphs gives the teenager a clue. David Stewart realized that not each of the symbols represented a different syllable, but rather there were several symbols that represented the same syllable.
There were no 800 individual syllables in the Mayan language, only variations for writing each one. Words can be represented using many different shapes and individual syllables written in multiple ways. The Mayan code was deciphered. And when archaeologists began translating the steles, they were impressed.They showed dates of birth, dates of accession, important victories and terrible defeats and when the throne passed to the next king. In those stone tablets we have the history of the ancient Mayans. Archaeologists were finally able to read Mayan history and what they discovered was amazing. In the rainforests of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador, the Mayan people prospered for almost 3,000 years.
Already in the year 2000 BC. C., civilizations began to emerge in Central America. First the Olmecs and then the Teotihuacans of Mexico. Their traditions shaped Mayan culture. Around 250 AD, the Mayans became the civilization we know today. Almost a thousand years before the Aztecs, further north, in Mexico, and the great Inca empire, in South America. But it is from the year 500 AD. It was in the southern lowland region of Guatemala that the Mayans really hit their stride. It is a civilization to rival any, but around 900 CE, at its peak, the Mayans abandoned its heart. Remains of the people survived along the borders of Yucatán.
These are the people that the conquistadors first encountered in the 16th century. But civilization there is a shadow of its former self. And as the centuries pass, the cause of their exodus from the southern lowlands is forgotten. Studying them is really like the first autopsies to understand the body. It is in ruins in the jungle. What happened? It is one of the biggest unsolved cases in history. What caused the collapse of the Mayan civilization? But among the ruins, surely the Mayans must have left some clues. Deep in the Guatemalan rainforest, along the Pasión River, archaeologists discover something disturbing.
In the Mayan cities along this river they find human bones. A large majority of the samples showed evidence of a particular bone deformity, particularly in the skull, called porotic hyperostosis. What you get are skulls that look like sponges but are thick and deformed. Bone deformities like this, it is clear that these people were not healthy. As more deformed bones were discovered in adjacent towns, it became clear that they were distributed along the Pasión River. Archaeologists need to know what caused the deformations. They enlist the help of paleopathologist Frank Saul. The conclusion that Saúl and his team reached in the 70s was that the deformities in these bones along the Pasión River were evidence of malnutrition.
These people had died of hunger. Malnutrition suggested that the Mayan food chain collapsed. Since tropical forests are notoriously difficult to farm, in many ways over-exploitation made sense. Rainforest soils are generally not rich in nutrients and can be depleted very quickly. MAN: It's really difficult to sustain a large population in a rainforest where there are thin soils where you have to constantly maintain this delicate balance between the nutrients that go into the soil and the nutrients that come out of the soil through harvesting. The idea that the Mayan population was outgrowing their ability to grow food was tempting.
Particularly with the form of agriculture that archaeologists believe the Mayans used: slash and burn. Clear the forest and set it on fire. In slash-and-burn agriculture, for every three years or so of cultivation, it takes 15 years of


ow fields to replenish their nutrients again. If you keep growing and growing and growing without waiting 10 or 15 years for the soil to replenish itself, the food would simply stop growing. Did the Mayan population overcome the earth? Archaeologists needed a way to understand the true scale of their civilization. For centuries, archaeologists have studied a painstakingly slow process from the ground in the rainforest.
But then a revolutionary piece of aerial technology, LIDAR, transformed archeology overnight. LIDAR sends hundreds of thousands of laser beams to the earth's surface and measures the speed of the laser beam as it bounces back and forth, so by measuring the distance it can calibrate those data points and build a 3D model of its shape. of the earth's surface is. The amazing thing about LIDAR is that the light beam will directly penetrate the surface even through dense tree cover, so you can begin to build an incredibly detailed image of the Earth's surface hidden deep in that vegetation.
If you suddenly see a straight line, you know it's probably not Mother Nature, but the hand of humans. You're looking for the things that stand out, the anomalies, and those are the points to investigate. And when LIDAR recorded the areas around known Mayan sites, the results were surprising. Out of nowhere, more than 60,000 unknown Mayan structures suddenly appeared. What the lidar revealed to us was not that the Mayans lived in small cities surrounded by jungle, but that all these cities were actually networked. This is massive infrastructure. This is one of the most important civilizations humanity has ever seen.
Crucially, LIDAR revealed the true extent of the Mayan world. Tikal is one of the largest ancient Mayan cities. It's been studied for over 100 years by archaeologists and to be honest we thought we knew quite a bit, but then they sent in the lidar surveyors and it was an absolute game changer. Scans of Tikal show the city was four times larger than previously thought. LIDAR analysis has forced archaeologists to radically rethink the size of the Mayan population. There was an estimate of about 5 million people, but now the estimate has been raised to about 15 million people. The Mayan civilization at that time was one of the largest and most impressive in the world.
This forces us to go back and recalculate what is called "landscape carrying capacity." How many people could you have provided landscape support to? It would surely be impossible for the nutrient-poor rainforest soil to support that level of population. Did their farming simply abandon them? Just as archaeologists thought they had solved the mystery of the sudden Mayan collapse, LIDAR analysis turned everything upside down. The Mayans were spectacularly advanced farmers; They understood the limitations of farming in a rainforest and designed the natural environment to maximize their agricultural yield. LIDAR techniques have forced us to reevaluate the scale of Mayan ambition in terms of engineering their environment.
Much of the landscape was managed for agricultural production. They irrigated large elevated and terraced fields in order to retain as much soil as possible, preventing water runoff, preventing erosion, and helping vegetative matter remain in the soil so that it retains its ability to produce well. There are areas that are swampy (in Spanish the word is 'low') and in the swampy areas there is a lot of vegetation that rots very slowly and that left behind is that thick, thick, dark, rich organic matter. Now, yeah, it stinks, you don't necessarily want to land on one, but if you dump that stuff on your fields, it makes amazing fertilizer.
These are farmers understanding their place in the system to maximize the agricultural production of these landscapes. The Mayans were masters of agriculture in the typically difficult environment of the rainforest. Cultivating the land gave them a more reliable harvest and a surplus of food. And this allowed the Mayan culture to flourish. As long as the weather remained stable. They had learned to walk a tightrope, they had learned to strike that delicate balance between not overexploiting, but exploiting enough to feed everyone. They were incredible experts in cultivating this rainforest. And something else was missing: written evidence of the famine.
But did the Mayans leave any clues in their glyphs about the cause of their collapse? Dr. Arthur Demarest's team excavates at Dos Pilas, a Mayan ruin near the Pasión River. At the beginning of Dos Pilas there is a staircase and it is completely covered in glyphs and the story that the glyphs tell is one of war. Total war, bloody and vengeful. Could this have been the war to end all wars? The glyphs offer a tantalizing glimpse behind the Mayan collapse. Could one Mayan group have eliminated all the others? But translators have a problem. The glyphs appear incomplete.
Part of the story is missing. The excavation goes from bad to worse. Excavations at the site were stopped due to hurricane season and the excavators received a call saying that there had been a lot of destruction and a lot of damage at the site, but one of the things that happened was that it revealed more hieroglyphs at Dos Pilas. ladder. And this transformed everything. The hurricanes exposed stairs that had not been discovered before. Covered in glyphs. The missing part of the story. Archaeologists were finally able to read the entire sequence. It was the story of Dos Pilas and it was steeped in war.
Did the Mayans destroy each other? While Demarest's team translated the glyphs, they discover a detailed history. In the year 600 CE, two superpowers wage war, Tikal and Calakmul. Tikal achieves dominance and has lordship over a huge area and many other very rich and well-endowed city-states. In the 620s, one of the sons of the divine dynasty is sent to an outpost on the Passion River to establish a new city. We know it as Dos Pilas. And it was important as a kind of defensive military post, basically to protect against potential attackers because they could see that there was control over the entire area.
But Calakmul did not allow himself to be dissuaded. And Dos Pilas was captured and subdued. Analysis of the glyphs showed that DO Pilas swore allegiance to Calakmul and fought with them. This war did not end in total destruction, it ended in assimilation. In most cases they would put someone else on the throne or often the king himself, but now they are paying tribute to the other great city. Rival cities and their people were subjugated. It is evidence that the result of the Mayan conflict was an expansion of influence, not a collapse. The Mayan civilization was warlike, but they managed to coexist.
The cause of his Apocalypse is a greater mystery than ever. Archaeologists return to the collapse pattern to see if they had somehow missed any clues. The collapse of the Mayan cities along the Pasión River begins with Dos Pilas, then along the Yucatán Peninsula, the Mayan cities fall like dominoes. The answer had to be in this very specific region. Dr. Demarest and his team are excavating in Concuen, a Mayan municipality located where the Pasión River meets the volcanic mountains of Guatemala. The city of Concuen was a small kingdom under Dos Pilas. There we have the largest jade workshop in America.
So the city was very important. Here archaeologists make a gruesome discovery. There is a small pool, a small natural water hole, they just started digging a small hole and then it got bigger and bigger. And then they started finding bones. More bones. More bones. There were 30... I think it's 31 bodies. Archaeologists know from Mayan glyphs that human sacrifices were made in times of great crisis. Is this what happened here? Luckily, the Mayans left a lot of information about this macabre ritual. When the Mayans were sacrificed, they were taken to the top of the pyramid, painted blue, decapitated and their hearts ripped out, leaving a fairly recognizable mark in the archaeological record.
Were the bodies in the Cancun moat human sacrifices? Dr. Demarest's team requests help from the Guatemala Forensic Foundation. Forensic pathologists who often investigate war crimes. They established that murder did not conform to the practice of sacrifices. They had jade implants in their teeth. And then you had... you also had, well, necklaces with jaguar claws and some canines. Clearly these weren't just warriors or something. They were the high elite. They could see that some had been pierced with spears and a couple had been hit on the head. Several had a spear pierced through their throats, severing their spinal cord.
Autopsies make sacrifice unlikely. So why were these people killed? They find another clue in Concuen. The palaces, some parts are demolished, many hundreds of tons of dirt and rubbish are buried on the throne rooms and surfaces. We were digging, and we saw this and, "Wow, this is really the motherload, you know, for the collapse." They date the destruction to 800 CE. What happened at Concuen occurred near the beginning of the Mayan collapse. Everything suggested that the deaths were related to a different form of Mayan worship. Could it offer clues to the cause of its collapse? There is almost nothing in Mayan culture that is not a religious ceremony that is effectively a king. power because he descends from the gods.
He could talk to the gods, he can summon the gods. MAN: They had many, many different gods for different things. god It was crucial for the Mayan people, the common people, that the gods were appeased. It meant life or death because the agricultural base of their society depended heavily on rain. To appease the gods, the holy lords honored them in an elaborate ceremony. They loved red and painted their pyramids. their temples with these bright colors. The king climbed these gigantic stairscarrying 200 pounds of jade headdresses. Jade was one of his most important jewels, very noble, very religious, obviously the holy ruler would have had many objects related to jade as a way of communicating with the gods.
Once they had the gods' attention, they opened a unique line of communication. Blood was a way to communicate with the gods. The holy lord would cut off part of his body, often his genitals, and drain his blood. Pieces of paper or parchment were used to absorb the blood, then burned it and inhaled the smoke. No, this was intended to conjure up a sort of intermediary to the gods, a serpent who would then go and speak to the gods on behalf of the holy ruler and his people. The visions would advise them on all aspects of Mayan life but, most importantly, when to plant and harvest their crops, and for the Mayans, the city that most pleased the gods reaped the greatest rewards.
You have this competition between the holy lords of one city and another. This is called "status rivalry." But also the construction, the construction of pyramids and then it has to be done more and the rituals have to be bigger. Which requires increasingly larger stages. There are many Mayan cities, the competition is very intense. And there is evidence that in 796 CE, the holy lord of Concuen occupied a prominent place at the epicenter of Mayan trade. In the holy lord's palace, Dr. Demarest's team has discovered a sculpture. It shows the holy lord sitting astride a Mayan aquatic monster.
He symbolized that he was the king of the river. It's hell to navigate the rainforest. The rivers were the great highways. The Pasión River is the largest river and flows from the volcanic mountains all the way to Mexico. Jade was coming back. Jade was necessary for kings, it is very powerful, significant in terms of their social status. In 796, the holy lord and his elites had become rich from the Jade trade. But just four years later, the city was abandoned. It is a pattern that repeats itself throughout the Mayan civilization: a city reaches the peak of power and then collapses.
They returned to the 31 bodies thrown into the well; Understanding why they were killed could be key, and one very striking feature provided a clue. The victims were buried still dressed in their luxury items. These were the remains of the holy lord and his nobles. We found it very strange but it was not a furious massacre. They are not invaders. They are not people from afar. It's not war. If the invaders had killed them, their bodies would have been looted. The holy lords of Concuen were murdered and their sanctuaries desecrated by their own people. But what triggered this sudden act of violence?
Archaeologists looked downriver to Dos Pilas, the regional power and rulers of Concuen. It is a very strange city, but it was founded for war. But then, when the wars ended, he controlled more of the jade trade route but ended up conquering much of the Pasión River. The conquest did not mean that they took over the cities, it DID mean that they paid tribute, and it led to a period of great wealth in Dos Pilas. Although Dos Pilas was prospering economically, there were signs that the city had turned its back on its religious rites. They were at their peak in 760, in 761, they demolished many temples and palaces to build defensive walls.
An attack was obviously coming. But from who? Archaeologists searched for vassal cities under their control of Dos Pilas. They found gold in the ruins of Tamarindito. When archaeologists began to decipher the Tamarindito stelae, what they found was that the king of Tamarindito had decided to


up and overthrow his oppressor in Dos Pilas. With Tamarindito advancing, Dos Pilas prepare for a siege. We dug 13 kilometers of walls. And we found right where the wall was breached in the central part of the city, 13 skulls of decapitated adult men, young adult men - warriors, in other words - in a pit there.
By 761 AD, the elites of Dos Pilas were dead and the city abandoned. But the fighting did not end here. When Dos Pilas was destroyed, then you start to see others fall. A rapid domino effect occurs, the population decline was very dramatic, very rapid. It seems that there was a rebellion that spread throughout the southern lowland region. The heart of the Mayan civilization. So what caused the Mayans to rebel against the cities' ruling elite? We will never be able to


y know the individual ways in which this city or that city collapsed. But it's not that important, the important thing is to see the connections and then see the real causes underneath.
The divine kingship system and status rivalry. You see all these things: more and more monuments because you have more nobles and the kings needed more jade, they need to have more power. And you see those things become bigger and bigger and they really are bigger in many ways, but not for everyone. The degree of social inequality created is difficult to sustain. Dr. Arthur Demarest believes that this system of divine leadership, which places all faith in the ruling elite, is the key to the collapse. Over time, the differences in social strata, the stratification between the poor, the nobles and the rulers became greater and greater.
And then this wonderful building and the beautiful sites, everything we see, the energy produced by the farmers below, you begin to see the health of the agricultural class deteriorate. 95% of the population were farmers. The status rivalry between city-states pushed the Mayan people to the limit. And things were only going to get worse. In the year 800 AD, Yucatán was affected by a serious drought. It lasted 150 years. The Mayan civilization reached the heights it did because they mastered agriculture in a typically difficult rainforest environment. The drought threatened to destroy everything. And the Mayan solution to the drought would prove equally fatal.
Every time there was a disaster, every time there was a drought and the holy lord couldn't convince the gods to give them rain, well, what did they do? They doubled down. They would focus on building more temples for the gods, building more monuments, one city would declare war on another city, they would go out and find more jade, and at a time when your people are starving and you go out and spend a lot of time trying to get jade, but it seems really backwards. The Mayans went to war to control the few resources that remained.
They built more temples, held more ceremonies, and prayed harder in the hope that the gods would save them. Their efforts proved futile. What happens when the holy lord cannot convince the gods to make it rain? Maybe you realize that the system is not working, and if the system is not working, what do humans tend to do? They usually destroy it and leave. It is believed that one by one, they renounced their holy lords as the people of Concuen had done, ritually killed them and abandoned their cities. What happened to the Mayans, compared to other civilizations, was serious.
From its peak, it took more than 350 years for the Roman Empire to collapse. And their responses to their problems are very different from those of the Mayans. The leaders of the Roman Empire were fundamentally incredibly pragmatic. Different versions of political leadership were tried to prevent civil war from breaking out. Several emperors outlined the boundaries of the empire and said, "This is as far as we can go so as not to destroy ourselves at home." The thing about the Romans is that they tried things to try to keep things together. From what we know of Mayan history, they didn't do that.
The Mayans themselves have not disappeared. Their descendants live in Yucatán even today. The ancient Mayans abandoned their cities and dispersed into the rainforest, reorganizing themselves into smaller, self-sufficient villages. By 900 AD, the collapse in the Mayan heartland was virtually over and only the Mayans remained in Yucatan and the highlands. Their palaces, their cities, were abandoned for the tropical jungle.

If you have any copyright issue, please Contact