chapter  5
10 Pages

Environmental Degradation and the Collapse of Civilizations

The Maya formed a long-lived and highly developed civilization in central America, from about 3000 Be to fourteenth century AD. They were the only native American civilization to have a fully literate culture and they knew mathematics and made astronomical observations. They calculated the year to be 365.2420 days long, which differs from the true figure of 365.2422 days only in the fourth decimal place. Their art and architecture

There is a certain mystery about the Maya. Until relatively recently many aspects of their society were unclear. Even their material culture was little known because their abandoned cities were overgrown and inaccessible. Most mysterious of all was the sudden collapse of the civilization from the ninth century AD which, within 100-150 years saw a reduction in population by at least 70 per cent in the southern lowlands and the desertion and decay of many of their cities.