The Great Maya Droughts: Water, Life and Death

The Great Maya Droughts: Water, Life and Death


By (author) Richardson B. Gill

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  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Format: Paperback | 464 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 25mm | 839g
  • Publication date: 15 April 2001
  • Publication City/Country: Albuquerque, NM
  • ISBN 10: 0826327745
  • ISBN 13: 9780826327741
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: maps and charts

Product description

Between AD 800 and 1000, during what is known as the Classic Maya Collapse, unrelenting drought caused the deaths of millions of Maya people and initiated a cascade of internal collapses that destroyed their civilisation. Linking global, regional, and local climate change, the author explores how atmospheric processes, volcanism, ocean currents, and other natural forces combined to create a climate that pried apart the highly complex civilisation of the tropical Maya Lowlands in the ninth and tenth centuries. Drawing on knowledge of other prehistoric and historic droughts, this is a compelling study of the relationship of humans to their natural and physical environment. The author develops a new, scientific explanation of why the Classic Maya failed to adjust their behaviour and culture to the climatic conditions, and why civilisations in general sometimes collapse in the face of radical environmental change.

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Author information

Richardson B Gill

Review quote

." . . the author presents his case in a direct, matter-of-fact way that's accessible even to non-scientists. . . . ["The Great Maya Droughts" is] a benchmark for applying 'hard' science principles to what has been seen as a 'soft science.'"

Flap copy

Proposes a long sought solution to the mystery of the collapse of the Maya civilization: a series of severe droughts during the ninth and tenth centuries which brought famine, thirst, and death to the Maya lowlands.