9432Ma: Response to Response on Drought and the Maya Collapse
- Jan 22, 2003Jerry Ek wrote:
"The population expansion that is very well documented in the
archaeological data from the Puuc region contradicts any model of
migrations for the purpose of accessing ground water aquifers.
The Puuc region is a series of hills located high above the water
table, making the use of underground water sources (for any
purpose, much less irrigation), impossible."
--Perhaps the hills were defendable places in which to construct
reservoirs for the collection of rainwater. Caves seem to have
played an important role in Maya culture, they often contain
pools of water and intermittent streams, and are not uncommon in
hilly limestone terrain such as the Puuc.
"If the eighth century was a period of widespread draught, it
would seem very odd that centers in the Puuc (which relied on
very unstable rainwater resources), would be flourishing at this
time. This is part of a general trend of population expansion
during the Terminal Classic/Early Postclassic in Yucatan, which
is the driest part of the Maya area. Pushing this drought
back to the 8th century does not put the model in accordance with
the archaeological data, especially when one considers the new
chronologies being proposed in Yucatan that are pushing back the
periods of expansion at sites like Chichen."
--I suggest that a general crisis of confidence slowly set in
after the almanacs which had previously been able to predict the
weather with better than chance accuracy (due to their empirically
determined 52 year cycle) had obviously stopped working, resulting
in a decline of the authority of the elite and descent into tribal
warfare, accompanied by a retreat into hill forts for security,
which then gives rise to the illusion af a population increase, as
the number of house mounds goes up near established sites known
to archaeologists while it declines in the unexplored (and by now
remodelled by more recent farmers) bushland away from the pyramids
and stelae. I don't dispute that in the longer term this may have
been a good thing for the city states that survived the drought,
as the concentration of population would have enabled more
elaborate cultural activity to take place beyond simple survival
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