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9438Ma: Drought and the Maya Collapse

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  • David R. Hixson
    Jan 23, 2003
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      David R. Hixson wrote:
      >The puuc zone sits hundreds of feet above the Yucatan aquifer...

      Martin Peach wrote:
      >the water table, despite its name, is not flat, but follows the

      Let me provide an example... The site of Kiuic sits in the puuc
      region, near the town of Yaxhachen. I worked for a winter helping
      the community of Yaxhachen improve their potable water system.
      They rely exclusively upon two wells that could tap into the
      Yucatan aquifer, both dug by the government using heavy machinery
      to a depth of ca. 300 ft below surface. During the dry season,
      even these wells can dry up for short periods, leaving the village
      with whatever water they have pumped into above-ground cisterns.
      If you prefer non-anecdotal evidence, may I once again recommend
      the works by Nick Dunning.

      David Hixson wrote:
      >The migration scenario would also fail to explain the
      >contemporaneous depopulation of other northern Maya areas with
      >excellent access to ground water.

      Martin Peach wrote:
      >In the context of a collapse of larger scale social organization,
      >lowlands would not be safe places to live.

      Then I guess I don't understand why were you arguing earlier
      (1/21/03) for a migration into the lowlands, sparked by a
      drought, where populations would have concentrated around access
      to cenotes? My point above was simply to illustrate that
      Chichen's growth in the Terminal Classic cannot be explained only
      by its access to water (since contemporaneous sites underwent
      population decline at this time, even in areas with excellent
      access to the aquifer).

      Martin Peach wrote:
      >The hills are safer places to live in, you don't need to
      >build walls, they are already there. Contemporary 'guerillas'
      >know this very well. The expansion of cities is consistent with
      >an abandonment of the countryside because it was too dry and
      >because it was too dangerous..

      Once again, I recommend you examine true hilltop fortifications
      elsewhere in Mesoamerica. The Puuc sites do not fit such a
      pattern well. Additionally, you are clearly stating that prior
      to the Terminal Classic the Maya of the northern lowlands were
      largely rural, a statement that cannot be supported with current
      data. From Coba to Chac to Izamal to Oxkintok to Chunchucmil,
      past and ongoing research has shown that the Classic period in
      the north was quite vibrant, with vigorous inter-regional trade
      and complex political systems, and in some locations was truly
      urban by any definition.

      I guess that makes it my $0.04

      All the best,


      David R. Hixson
      Tulane University
      Department of Anthropology

      Email: dhixson@...
      Mesoamerican Photo Archives Project:

      Copyright � AZTLAN <AZTLAN@...> 2002.
      All rights reserved.
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