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The Fall of the Maya -- "They Did it To Themselves" -- From NASA, no less!

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posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 07:15 PM
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October 6, 2009: For 1200 years, the Maya dominated Central America. At their peak around 900 A.D., Maya cities teemed with more than 2,000 people per square mile -- comparable to modern Los Angeles County. Even in rural areas the Maya numbered 200 to 400 people per square mile. But suddenly, all was quiet. And the profound silence testified to one of the greatest demographic disasters in human prehistory -- the demise of the once vibrant Maya society.


NASA research


"They did it to themselves," says veteran archeologist Tom Sever.



A major drought occurred about the time the Maya began to disappear. And at the time of their collapse, the Maya had cut down most of the trees across large swaths of the land to clear fields for growing corn to feed their burgeoning population. They also cut trees for firewood and for making building materials.

"They had to burn 20 trees to heat the limestone for making just 1 square meter of the lime plaster they used to build their tremendous temples, reservoirs, and monuments," explains Sever.

He and his team used computer simulations to reconstruct how the deforestation could have played a role in worsening the drought. They isolated the effects of deforestation using a pair of proven computer climate models: the PSU/NCAR mesoscale atmospheric circulation model, known as MM5, and the Community Climate System Model, or CCSM.


This is a fascinating read to me........ they talk about the possibility of deforestation causing a localized increase of 3-5 degrees temperature, along with a 20-30 percent decrease in rainfall.

What parameters were used to support this study? ( sorry, lost connection at the nexus of this question)



Many of these insights are a result of space-based imaging, notes Sever. "By interpreting infrared satellite data, we've located hundreds of old and abandoned cities not previously known to exist. The Maya used lime plaster as foundations to build their great cities filled with ornate temples, observatories, and pyramids. Over hundreds of years, the lime seeped into the soil. As a result, the vegetation around the ruins looks distinctive in infrared to this day."


One of the most surprising aspects of this story -- at least for me -- is not the idea that the Maya may have "overgrown" their lands and been caught by a drought compounded by overfarming... it is that NASA thought this achaelogical story worthy of featuring.

I've spent a fair amount of time researching Mayan history, and this is the first time I've read a theory of their downfall that indicated themselves as the source.

What do you think ATS? Does this theory hold water?


[edit on 6/10/09 by argentus]




posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 07:59 PM
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I heard the mayans disappeared out of no where though



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:03 PM
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reply to post by YoungGod88
 


no really...read the article and understand a bit more.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:06 PM
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First of all I wonder about if nasa is saying the truth and second I wonder why the Mayans didn't just migrate to a different area?
Its a big world and they were survivors...even tho they didn't survive.
I think they were smart enough to have figured out that they were doing that and would have moved to an area they could survive in.
After all they did make the Mayan calender which everyone is freaking out about.
Good thread star and flag



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:08 PM
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reply to post by YoungGod88
 


I've read the same, however I think it's difficult to quantify the sharp decrease in population of an area within the historical context..... in other words, how do we tell how quickly a densely-populated area thinned down that was thriving 1000 years ago? Well, to some extent, we can see that their building boom wound down very sharply, however the Maya didn't vanish -- there are still Mayan decendant communities that honor the traditions and still use the Mayan language.

thanks for your post ;o)



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:13 PM
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Originally posted by argentus
I've spent a fair amount of time researching Mayan history, and this is the first time I've read a theory of their downfall that indicated themselves as the source.


Actually, among archaeologists and Mayanists, it's been talked about for quite some time. You can see some of the preliminary work from 2003 (which was about the time I became aware of the discussion):
www.sciencemag.org...

By 2005, the evidence strongly favored a sequence of droughts:
www.americanscientist.org...



What do you think ATS? Does this theory hold water?

I'm glad that NASA used its technology to help test the hypothesis. The finding of the hypothesis being confirmed is exciting from a scientific standpoint. The mystery of why the civilization collapsed (with no destruction from outside armies) was an enduring one. I think that we'll find more supporting evidence as the digs continue.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:14 PM
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reply to post by DrumsRfun
 


Thanks for the input Drums..... I'm not certain about this, however I think it likely that Mesoamerica at that time (2000 b.c. - 150/200 a.d.) was largely carved up with tribal borders.... perhaps they would have needed to war upon and conquer more fierce tribes in order to move through their lands. I think about the relatively narrow shape of their lands at that time.

Imagine the sorrow (if that is what happened) of watching your people slowly starve....... little rain, poor crops, all amidst some of the most impressive and mathematical structures of its time, and to be basically confined to your own area. I think it could have happened that way, particularly when you take into account the hypothesized population density of the Mayan culture -- the article mentioned a scale comparable to modern cities.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:17 PM
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Originally posted by DrumsRfun
First of all I wonder about if nasa is saying the truth


Yes.


and second I wonder why the Mayans didn't just migrate to a different area?


That's exactly what happened. The cities were starving and the farm workers and people with connections simply left the cities (no food, competition for water, etc) -- the rulers couldn't MAKE them stay.


After all they did make the Mayan calender which everyone is freaking out about.

And if the original civilization was still around, they would be preparing festivals and ceremonies... and carving a new calendar. There are inscriptions which show dates beyond 2012.

[edit on 6-10-2009 by Byrd]



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:20 PM
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reply to post by Byrd
 


Thanks for that Bryd
I know this is one of your many fields; I was hoping you'd weigh in.

I should clarify: I've read before that climatological-related changes might've contributed to the downfall of the Maya civilization, however this is the first I can recall where their own deforestation and overfarming without a rest to land was cited as the causation.

I think it's really fascinating, especially within a comparative context with, say, modern-day U.S. ....... do we see some of the same patterns? I think there are certainly similarities within other countries. Could it happen that way and looked upon by a distant historian as happening "in the blink of an eye?" Perhaps. Of course, there's a larger probability that I'm just being dramatic.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:24 PM
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You guys are blowing me away here.

I don't know half as much as you guys by the sounds of it.
I was just shooting from the hip.

I do wonder about the computer thing because that doesn't have the variables that real life does.
Do you guys think global warming might be an indicator of us repeating history then?



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:32 PM
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reply to post by DrumsRfun
 


Don't include me in that as an expert Drums. Byrd is an excellent source and learned in this field, and I happily defer. I am but a reader. ;o)

Plus, I'm prone to hypothesizing about whatever pattern I think I perceive.

My own view of climatology is that it is cyclic. I think human beings foul everything that they touch with few exceptions and at the very least, we don't help things. Yes, I think this thread could have parallels in the modern world -- we already see food and water shortages in places that we haven't before, or at least not in recent history. However, I think that whatever befell the Maya, at the same time in history, other places about the globe didn't necessarily suffer the same fate.

If I had to paint it as an allegory (assuming the core of this story were proven) it would be a picture of people watching the last, sad, shrunken corn plant, using the last of their precious water to keep it alive.

As I said, I'm prone to dramatic phrases. That doesn't get better with age.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:37 PM
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As much as I would like to say that NASA is lying about this too, there is very little to lie about.

The moutain of information and supporting evidence incovered in the past decade, definetly point to what they are talking about.

Now I doubt that it would have been the sole cause, simply because an advanced society would have been smart enough to move at that point. A colletion of the drought factor, coupled with changing times, foreign traders and over population were most likely the cause.

Nice thread though. It is refreshing to see NASA actually use their technology to solve an archeological mystery.

~Keeper



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:40 PM
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I heard about this theory, too. I read about it in a book about weather and how it affects civilizations. It makes a great deal of sense.

The Sahara Desert used to have forest and lots of water. Although human activity doesn't account for the whole desertification, it certainly accelerated the process. Again, cutting down the trees left soil vulnerable to erosion from water and wind. It also interfered with the cycle of rain, absorption into the ground, release from the trees back into the atmosphere. Slowly but surely, the area of desert increased.

The Amazon rain forest is showing signs of desertification in some places where they've cut and burned the trees.

As for the people migrating, that's what most of them likely did. However, their social structure was destroyed when they migrated, so you don't find a Mayan civilization in a different spot. It's different people now, descendants from the Mayans.

Also, I think some of their problem was that they tried to propitiate the Sun god by resorting to human sacrifices. Keep that up long enough, and you'll run out of people. Either you'll kill them all off, or they'll get the heck out of Dodge.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:45 PM
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reply to post by tothetenthpower
 



Nice thread though. It is refreshing to see NASA actually use their technology to solve an archeological mystery
. Indeed it is. I fancy this story much more than the idea (and expense) of NASA exploding a piece of the moon in order to scan it for minerals/water.

History can perhaps give us clues about ourselves and our impacts upon the planet; Clues that, if heeded, might allow us as a species to survive ..... ourselves. I think the Earth itself will always recover.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:46 PM
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They also did not practice crop rotation which would lead to soil deficiencies. I guess the combination of drought and soil less suitable for growing added to their problems. People will abandon a location if it is not productive in food gathering. They become nomadic.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 08:56 PM
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Government has always been the problem.

As long as government is there, they will become greedy to the point of obliviation of mankind.

Which is sad, because without other people those same people can not even survive.

People have power.

The government takes power away and replaces it with God.

[edit on 6-10-2009 by 12.21.12]



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 09:18 PM
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the maya suffered from a double whammy,

first the climaqte around the world had changed dramaticly following the 536ish eruption of krakatoa. it took several centruies for the full effects of the eruption to make their way through the rest of the world.
They areas of the us sw and mesoamerica were hard hit as rainfall saw a steady decrease in the decades leading up to the 900's.
The anasazi of the us were contempories of the maya, and also fell into decline due to decreasing rainfall, and other social pressures.
These changes in the earths climate also made northern europe the mildest it had been in 8000 years.
This mild northern climate led to an explosion in the population of scandanavia, starting the vikings on their several centuries of expansion.
The maya also strecthed the ability of the land to feed the exploding population.
lets not forget that the maya city states were also contantly at war with each other and the warfare compounded the problems.

a few good books that deal with the worlds climate and societies in 'dark ages" and the medieval period

I highly suggest reading "the little ice age" by brian fagan

collapse by jerad diamond

and
catastrophe by david keys

There was a lot going on in mesoamerica in the time period in question, and many seemingly unrelated events could very likley be related.
due to climate change and exploding populations.



posted on Oct, 6 2009 @ 09:49 PM
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Several weeks ago i watched what i, at first thought was a really corny early sixties movie, about the inhabitants of teotihuacan.
"kings of the sun"
Like all movies of the time the major actors were all whites, with their 60's psuedo pompadors.
It stared yul brynner, richard basehart and several other well know actor of the time period.
It turned out to very entertaining, if not very historically accurate, but mabey it was somewhat.
but very entertaining in an old film way
Any way teotihuacan was invaded by "barbarians" who drove the king and his court from the city.
(newer thought about the sack of teotihuacan implies that it was not an invasion but a rebellion against the ruling elite, by the subservient, classes)
The king leads his followers to the coast and are chased by the barbarians, in a small fishing villiage the people tell them of sailors whpo had been to the land north across the sea, but few ever came back.
So to escape the barbarians they take to boats and set out to sea.
After many days of hardship they finally make landfall on a beack of a deserted land.
they start a settlemment and build a rudimentary pryamid.
At this point they are seen by the chief of a native american tribe(yul bryner, on a hunt, he is unsettled by these strangers in his land, and attacks the king while he is on an outing, but is captured.
Bla bla bla then their is the required romantic plot complication, when the kings girl nurses the chief back to health, so that they might sacrifice in order to have a good harvest.
The king and the chief become friends, and althought he king does not want to sacrifice him, it is demanded by the priest.
When the chief discovers his fate he accepts it AND WILLING GOES TO THE SACRIFICIAL STONE, with an outstanding soliloquy.
The king is moved by his girl, who has know fallen for the chief, to spare his life, which he does.
The king decrees that they will not make human sacrifices to the gods anymore, and the people are worried.
The chief goes back to his people and tells the atle of the newcomers and their advanced ways.
The tribe then goes to live at the new villiage with the new comers and learn their ways.
All is good until the inevatible conflict between the king and chief over the girl.
and all looks lost, until the barbarians arrive and attack the settlement, then the indians come to the aid of the newcomers and the chief gives his life defending the king and they rekindle their freindship as he lays dying.

The best part about the movie is that they used an actual mayan? villiage and mayans as extras for the first villiage on the coast.
while they used real north american native americans for the indian extras.
It was a nice touch.



posted on Oct, 7 2009 @ 02:42 PM
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hmmm... a society killing themselves to perpetuate constant growth.. where have i seen that before???



posted on Nov, 20 2009 @ 11:21 AM
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Originally posted by chiron613
The Sahara Desert used to have forest and lots of water. Although human activity doesn't account for the whole desertification, it certainly accelerated the process. Again, cutting down the trees left soil vulnerable to erosion from water and wind. It also interfered with the cycle of rain, absorption into the ground, release from the trees back into the atmosphere. Slowly but surely, the area of desert increased.


This is well know, how most of North Africa extending into Spain and the Middle East became desertified in relatively recent history largely through deforestation and disruption of the water table.

The difference between there and the Mayan situation was that proximities to other advancing cultures adjacent to the Mediterranean made it possible for trade of goods, food, resources to offset the loss of local agriculture. You could survive in what was essentially a desert as we see right now in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, etc.

Mike



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