Maya Civilization Collapse

Chris White and Gwyneth Thalacker


All of histories greatest civilizations had done something to earn their spot on top. Each civilization had a time of being the most powerful. For the Maya civilization this was called the Classic period which lasted from about A.D. 250 to A.D. 900. At the time they were one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas. One thing they are remembered for was their major breakthroughs in astronomy. But, as we know, all great things must come to an end, and the great Maya civilization found its end somewhere. Because of climate change, droughts, and deforestation, the once advanced Maya civilization eventually collapsed.

Climate Change

One of the great effects that lead to the collapse of the Maya civilization was the climate change. To begin, the climate change caused less rainfall which would pose as a major problem for the Mayans. The decline in rainfall caused the crops to die out. The people relied on the crops as a major food source, so this dramatic change caused people to starve throughout the civilization. Also, the decreasing amount of rain caused climatic aridification. The Mayan civilization was becoming very arid which affected the soil, another key contributor to the lack of crops. A lack of crops was a result of both less rainfall and climatic aridification and slowed down trade and peoples source of a way to earn money and survive. Climate change was one of the main factors that lead to the collapse of the Maya civilization.


Droughts played a key role in the collapse of the Mayan civilization. When scientist looked into the weather that occurred during the time of the civilization the results were clear. The scientists found that the rainfall was episodic. Some years the rainfall was too much and flooded the fields. Other years it was just right and they were able to survive and thrive. But there were some years when the rain just wouldn't fall. The Mayans were smart when it came to planting their fields. They would plant enough crops knowing how much water they would need to water the crops. Rainfall was really their only source of water. So, if the rain fall didn't total to the amount they needed to water the crops they could have lost entire fields of food. During the time of the collapse scientists had discovered that the rainfall totals were unusually low. This could be the simple reason that they Mayan civilization collapsed.


Deforestation was a major factor in determining the collapse of the Maya civilization. When the Mayans first moved to the rainforest they had a large population. They were careless and lacking knowledge about how much of a strain they could put on their rainforest environment. They cut down trees for farmland, and built homes and palaces all throughout the jungle. This lead to a lack of resources in the jungle and plants dying out. Eventually, when they lost 90% of their population, the cities started becoming overgrown by the jungle and this civilization became too hard to take care of and keep populated. Deforestation could very well have been the reason the Maya civilization collapsed.
Big image
Big image



Choi, Charles. "What Caused Collapse of Mayan Civilization?" Fox News. February 24, 2012. Accessed March 03, 2014.

Diamond, Jared M. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking, 2005.

""Mexico and Central America: History and Movement of Peoples." World and Its Peoples: The Americas." Marshall Cavendish. Accessed March 3, 2014.

Oh, Na Eun. "Climate Change and the Decline of Mayan Civilization." DUJS Online. March 8, 2013. Accessed March 03, 2014.


Bower, Bruce. "Ancient Maya's Fate Tied to Rainfall." ELibrary Science. ProQuest, 15 Dec. 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.

Diamond, Jared M. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking, 2005. Print.

Fitch, Elizabeth K. "Rapid Climate Change and the Collapse of the Maya Civilization." Rapid Climate Change and the Collapse of the Maya Civilization. N.p., 2006. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.

"Multiple Factors, including Climate Change, Led to Ancient Maya Collapse | ASU News." ASU News. N.p., 21 Aug. 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.