Shifting Trade Routes May Have Been Root Cause of Mayan Decline
The end of the classic Mayan civilization in the lowlands of Mesoamerica was likely expedited by shifting trade routes that started to bring valuable goods to coastal regions instead of the inland city-states of the ancient Native Americans. While the cause of this decline is still shrouded in mystery, most scholars consider the period of the Maya Collapse to be between the 8th and 9th centuries. During this time, the highly sophisticated societies that existed along the rivers of northern Guatemala, southern Yucatan, and western Belize were slowly abandoned.
Researchers from The Field Museum and the University of Illinois have uncovered a key piece in solving the mystery surrounding this collapse. According to their study published in the online version of Antiquity, factors like climate change, breakdowns in leadership, and warfare contributed to the collapse– but shifting exchange networks may have been a key factor in the decline.