As I currently read so much about pessimistic ecological forecast of today's society, I'm wondering if the Maya or eastern islands society became aware of their heading into or state of an ecological crisis and if this triggered a change of their individual and common behavior? Both are very well studied, the Maya language was deciphered, did archeologists ask themselves my question and try to answer it?

The question to me is rather if they tried to save their civilization by drastically changing their behavior instead of proceedings as used to till the end. Maybe archeologists have identified in Maya scripts at least such notions or changing procedures, e.g. ceremonies at the beginning/end of their crisis.


2 Answers 2


While an question posted a while ago, I think the jury is still out regarding the extent of the 'ecological crisis' you speak of. the ancient Maya participated in a range of strategies which used forest resources to sustain their population.

The link between climate and the ancient Maya is well documented, with drought occuring around periods of destabilization (mainly Preclassic Abamdonment (200 CE) and the Terminal classic (~750 CE). This likely had an impact on how the interacted with their landscape, but the notion of ecological negligence is one that has been spun heavily by the environmental deterministic crowd.

Whilst we have this evidence for a link between the climate and the Maya having negative influence, the data is not yet available to suggest a clear negative relationship between the ancient Maya and their environment.

  • Thank you for your answer Oct 16, 2020 at 17:45


The environment as a scientific concept is relatively new. You can argue when it became first known, but before 1900 is - in my opinion - pushing it. The Mayas and Pacific islanders were many centuries before that level. They thought the gods did it.

  • 5
    Good point. Though you need not really a concept of environment to recognize you are running out of forest like the Pacific islanders. The Maya were able to make complex mathematical calculations. The question is more into the direction, did they try to change their economic/ecological behavior to save their society/civilization rather than the environment Mar 15, 2019 at 8:08
  • Yeah. Some pre modern societies did adapt successfully to environmental threats
    – Ne Mo
    Oct 16, 2020 at 16:11

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