Did Belief in Gods Lead to Mayan Demise?
A dread of malevolent spirits haunting forsaken areas could, along with environmental catastrophes, help to explain why some areas in the ancient Mayan world proved less resilient than others when their civilization disintegrated, researchers suggest.
The ancient Maya once claimed an area about the size of Texas, with cities and fields that occupied what is now southern Mexico and northern Central America, including the countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The height of the Mayan civilization, known as the Classic period, extended from approximately A.D. 250 to at least 900. For unknown reasons, the Classic Mayan civilization then collapsed. The population declined catastrophically to a fraction of its former size, and many of their great cities were left mostly abandoned for the jungle to reclaim.