Ecological Pressures and Collapse

Ecological Pressures and Collapse - Ecological Pressures...

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Ecological Pressures and Collapse For thousands of years, the world has seen the rise and fall of many great civilizations. In some instances, warfare, disease, and social instability are several factors that may have contributed to such major collapses. However, these factors do not seem to be influential in the cases of Maya civilization in Mesoamerica and the Anasazi civilization at Chaco Canyon. Many scholars and researchers have theorized that climate change and several untimely droughts caused the ultimate collapse of these two great civilizations. With regard to Maya civilization, the effects of a decrease in rainfall for two centuries between 750 and 950 A.D. were magnified by several substantial droughts, causing instability due to a lack of food resources. In the 12 th century, extended periods of drier and hotter conditions in contemporary New Mexico led to the abandonment of civilization at Chaco Canyon by the Anasazi. In the cases of the Maya and the Anasazi at Chaco Canyon, climate change and the ecological effects on available resources resulted in the fairly rapid decline of civilization. Maya civilization flourished for thousands of years, developing a stratified society with highly complex economic, social, and cultural systems. At approximately 900 A.D., the civilization suddenly collapsed, ending two millennia of prosperity and stability. According to two articles by Hodell et al. (1995 & 2001), the time period between 800 and 1000 A.D. saw the driest years of the Middle to Late Holocene epoch. A sediment core sample from Lake Chichinacanab, Mexico was used to determine the changes in oxygen isotopes and sediment composition due to climate shifts. This reconstruction of temperature variation in the central Yucatan peninsula demonstrated that during the Early to Middle Holocene conditions were much wetter, coinciding with the rise of Maya civilization (Hodell et al. 1995). However, the core sample shows an increase in sulfur content and certain oxygen isotopes that reflect a
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considerably drier climate from 200 B.C. to 800 A.D. (Hodell et al. 1995). Using the radiocarbon dating analysis of a seed recovered from Lake Chichinacana, Hodell and his colleagues established that the drying trend reached its peak aridity around 900 A.D. (Hodell et al. 1995). They understand this trend as part of a phenomenon referred to as solar forcing, which explains
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Ecological Pressures and Collapse - Ecological Pressures...

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