According to a recent study, the Maya civilization may have had access to about 500 drought-resistant edible plants.
We still do not know the secret behind the sudden decline of the Maya civilization. Scientists have long suspected that drought pushed people to starvation.
The Maya civilization faced starvation due to its reliance on drought-sensitive crops such as corn, beans and squash.
Introduction to Maya Civilization:
- The Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization developed by the Maya peoples, and noted for its logosyllabic script—the most sophisticated and highly developed writing system in pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system.
- The Maya civilization developed in the area that today comprises southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador.
- The rise of the Maya began around AD 250 and is known to archaeologists as the Classic Period of Maya culture, which lasted until about 900 AD. At its peak, the Maya civilization consisted of more than 40 cities, each with a population of between 5,000 and 50,000.
- But then suddenly between 800 and 950 AD many southern cities were abandoned. This period has been called the decline of the Classic Maya civilizations which confuses modern scientists.
- Around 1500 BC the Maya civilization settled in villages, and agriculture was developed based on the cultivation of corn, beans, and squash. Cassava (Sweet Manioc) was also grown here till 600 AD.
- They began building ceremonial centers and by about 200 AD these had grown into cities with temples, pyramids, palaces, ball courts and plazas.
- The people of the ancient Maya civilization excavated stone (usually limestone) for construction in large quantities, which they cut using hard stones such as ‘chert’. They were mainly engaged in slash-and-burn agriculture or shifting agriculture, but they used advanced techniques in the fields of irrigation and mountain agriculture. They also developed a system of hieroglyphic writing and highly sophisticated calendars and astronomical systems.
- The Maya people made paper from the inner bark of wild fig trees and wrote their hieroglyphs on books made from this paper. Those books are called ‘codex’.
- The people of the Maya civilization also developed an elaborate and beautiful tradition of sculpture and carving.
- The main sources of information about the early Maya civilization are architectural works and stone inscriptions and carvings.
Source – The Hindu