Snapshots

Maya History Suggests Trade Patterns Played Key Role In Collapse

Maya history--and the civilization's "collapse"--continue to occupy the minds of archeologists. Some research points to a series of droughts as playing an important role in the Maya demise. Other researchers propose the ancient Maya were less resilient to fight for survival due to religious beliefs.

And now Dr. Gary Feinman, an archaeologist at Chicago’s Field Museum, has suggested a new explanation. When he came face-to-face with a detailed map of trade patterns from an episode of Maya history–it was his “aha” moment, he said.

Dr. Feinman and a team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago studied how the precious material obsidian, or volcanic glass, was traded and used by inland Maya communities during the Classic Period, just years before the mysterious Maya collapse.

When this research was displayed on the map, an interesting pattern emerged. The originally inland trade system evolved into a primarily coastal system, which suggested the inland Maya communities no longer had easy access to obsidian and other resources. After that, the populations in inland areas drastically declined.

“The collapse of these inland riverine centers has been a topic of discussion for a hundred years at least, and there are lots of ideas that have been put forth as possibly being responsible,” Dr. Feinman told The Huffington Post. “Our study suggests that at least one of those factors may have been this changing route of exchange and the decline of access–or ability of people at these inland centers–to get obsidian through the riverine trade routes.”

FULL ARTICLE HERE: Maya History Suggests Trade Patterns Played Key Role In Collapse.

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