Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Alissya . Alissya Wonders, “how did the mayans dissapear” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Alissya !
Can you think of any great cultures of the ancient world? The Greeks and Romans probably spring to mind. You might also think of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. If you love learning about ancient people, you’re in luck! Today’s Wonder of the Day is about another great society. Who are we talking about? The ancient Maya, of course!
The Maya Empire once stood in the area that many today call Guatemala. Over time, it grew northward. It reached as far as modern-day Mexico. As a culture, the Maya were experts at many things. This included agriculture, language, mathematics, art, architecture, and astronomy.
The Maya culture reached its height during the sixth century C.E. Mysteriously, only a few hundred years later, it was gone. By around 900 C.E., nearly all of their large stone cities had been left empty. What happened to this great empire?
The fall of the Maya Empire has interested scholars for hundreds of years. Some new theories might explain what happened. Some experts now think the Maya probably contributed to their own downfall.
For hundreds of years, the Maya thrived in southern Mexico and Central America. Their population grew to be quite large. At its peak, the density of the Maya population was similar to modern-day Los Angeles. The empire held over 2,000 people per square mile.
How did the Maya support such a large and growing population? They were good farmers who excelled at growing corn. To have enough food, the Maya had to cut down large areas of forest. This made room for more fields. They also used trees for building materials and as fuel for limestone kilns. These kilns made the lime plaster they used for many of their temples.
Scientists believe this deforestation led to the fall of the Maya Empire. It caused climate change in the form of rising temperatures and low rainfall. These factors combined to cause a severe drought. The drought lasted nearly a century.
Combined with unsustainable farming practices, this meant disaster. The Maya no longer had the food and water they needed to survive. They left their large cities. People moved away to search for the resources they needed.
Today, the descendants of the Mayas still live in Mexico and Central America. Of course, many have also moved all over the globe. Scientists still study the ancient culture. They learn important lessons about sustainable farming. This can help stop large-scale disasters in the future.
Do you like learning about ancient civilizations? Spend some more time today reading about the Incas or the Kushites. What other lessons can we learn from these peoples?
Standards: C3.D2.His.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2