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The various windows inthe structure align withthe risings and the set-tings of Venus and otherheavenly bodies along thehorizon.
800 ce, and the major centers in the central regions of Mayan civiliza-tion collapsed entirely around 900. A resurgence of Mayan powerdeveloped on the Yucatan peninsula—notably in Chichén Itzá—in thefollowing period to 1200, but from the eleventh century the LongCount fell into disuse, and the record indicates a decline in the rigor oftraining for scribes and priests. Thereafter the high civilization of theMaya passed into history. An array of causes have been put forwardand debated to explain the protracted death of Mayan civilization.Endemic warfare among confederations of city-states may have playeda role, and the inevitable pressures of population measured against afragile system of food production may have produced radical demo-graphic ﬂuctuations. Compounding such possibilities, two centuries ofdrought—the worst in 8,000years—affected the Mayan lowlands in800–1000and no doubt took a heavy toll. Researchers have recentlyhighlighted the problems of deforestation stemming from Mayan tech-niques of using large amounts of wood to make lime for stucco withwhich Mayan monumental architecture was plastered. Deforestationprobably disrupted rainfall patterns and, at least in places, led to soilerosion and thereby the ruination of agriculture. Mayan civilizationgradually waned, and with it the exquisite system of understandingnature that the Maya had achieved.Cactus and EagleCentral America also saw the rise of Toltec and Aztec civilizations.Based on irrigation agriculture, between 900and1100 cethe Tolteccity of Tula had 35,000–60,000inhabitants, and the Toltecs built whatis technically the largest pyramid in the world, a manmade mountainof133million cubic feet, 1,000feet on a side, and 170feet high cov-ering45acres at Cholula.The Aztecs began as a seminomadic tribe, and in the fourteenth andfifteenth centuries they established the most powerful empire in Cen-tral America. They built their city of Tenochtitlán in 1325on a lakewhere Mexico City presently stands; according to legend, an omen—an eagle perched on a cactus—drew them to the lake. The Aztecsproved to be master hydraulic engineers. The lake, Lake Texcoco, wassaltwater, and Aztec engineers built a huge dike across it to separate afresh-water portion (fed by springs) from the brine; they also installedﬂoodgates to regulate lake levels and aqueducts to bring additionalfresh water to the lake. Each year millions of fish and ducks were takenfrom lakes, which also provided a nutritious algae paste. The Aztecsdeveloped an intensive style of lake-marsh (or lacustrine) agriculturethat involved dikes, dams, drainage canals, and land reclamation, allproduced as public works under state management. Agricultural pro-duction was literally based on ﬂoating paddies known as chinampas.