IHOPE Maya: Linking lessons of the past to our present and future
Author(s): Keith Prufer
Since 2007 the IHOPE Maya team has focused on synthesizing dynamic human-environmental interactions of the ancient Maya of southeastern Mexico and upper Central America (400BC-900AD). A series of great tropical societies, the Maya occupied a diverse range of tropical environments, adapting local strategies to meet varied subsistence, economic, political, and ecosystem service needs at large and small urban centers. Cycles of expanding populations, increasing despotism, and reliance on long-distance trade to support statecraft and domestic life characterize a millennium of development. By the 9th century AD, downward pressures on fragile tropical resources combined with increasing climate variability introduced uncertainties at a time of maximum populations, intensifying warfare, and multi-decadal droughts. Though differing responses across the geopolitical landscape reflect the resilience and rigidity of highly networked polities, within 150 years the political and economic systems of the Classic Maya had disintegrated. IHOPE Maya recognizes the stark similarities to the challenges confronting our current global developmental trajectories, and the applicability of these data to modern issues. Linking the past to the present allows us to explore human decision-making and its consequences for the future of our humanity that is now facing similar challenges to those of the past.
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IHOPE Maya: Linking lessons of the past to our present and future. Keith Prufer. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397166)
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