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CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEFORESTATION: Implications for the Maya collapse

  • Justine M. Shaw (a1)

Abstract

During the ninth century, many sites in the Southern Maya Lowlands were abandoned as elite and commoners felt the effects of the Classic-period Maya collapse. At the same time, sites to the north and east continued to flourish. Recent climatic data indicate that, at this time, much of the Maya area experienced a significant drought. However, this drought does not appear to have uniformly affected the entire region; instead, climate appears to have acted as a mosaic, shifting through time and space. It is hypothesized that one of the key factors responsible for these variable cultural trajectories is localized and regional climate change brought about through irregular anthropogenic deforestation. These changes, when coupled with an out-of-balance cultural system, may have served as a catalyst that sent some parts of the Maya world down the path to systems failure, while other zones were able—at least, temporarily—to adjust and continue.

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E-mail correspondence to: justine-shaw@eureka.redwoods.cc.ca.us

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CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEFORESTATION: Implications for the Maya collapse

  • Justine M. Shaw (a1)

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