Maya historians have generally settled on a combination of three main factors which could have caused the Maya collapse : warfare between city-states, overpopulation, and drought. The factors were not always contemporary or found all together in a single city.
READ MORE: What Caused the Maya Collapse All three of these factors–overpopulation and overuse of the land, endemic warfare and drought–may have played a part in the downfall of the Maya in the southern lowlands.
Archaeologists have different theories , which include starvation, drought, climate change, disease, and warfare.
80 different theories
Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
To scientists, it’s something more: evidence of the drought that is suspected to have led to the demise of the Mayan civilization. They found that the ratio of titanium to aluminum changed in the ninth and 10th centuries, a period when the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula went into decline.
Although the Mayan people never entirely disappeared— their descendants still live across Central America—dozens of core urban areas in the lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula, such as Tikal, went from bustling cities to abandoned ruins over the course of roughly a hundred years.
Theories about what caused the Classic Maya collapse have ranged from overpopulation to ongoing military conflict between competing city-states to some catastrophic environmental event, such as an intense drought—or some combination of all of those factors.
The Maya believed that when people died, they entered the Underworld through a cave or a cenote. When kings died, they followed the path linked to the cosmic movement of the sun and fell into the Underworld; but, because they possessed supernatural powers, they were reborn into the Sky World and became gods.
The Maya have lived in Central America for many centuries. They are one of the many Precolumbian native peoples of Mesoamerica . In the past and today they occupy Guatemala, adjacent portions of Chiapas and Tabasco, the whole of the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and the western edges of Honduras and Salvador.
The Maya today number about six million people, making them the largest single block of indigenous peoples north of Peru. Some of the largest Maya groups are found in Mexico, the most important of these being the Yucatecs (300,000), the Tzotzil (120,000) and the Tzeltal (80,000).
The designation Maya comes from the ancient Yucatan city of Mayapan, the last capital of a Mayan Kingdom in the Post-Classic Period. The Maya people refer to themselves by ethnicity and language bonds such as Quiche in the south or Yucatec in the north (though there are many others).
A team of researchers that began their work with a study of lake sediments in Guatemala has found that Bahlam Jol is the Mayan name of ruins that archaeologists call Witzna in northern Guatemala, and they concluded that the fire was devastating.
Since Mayan culture formed, dissolved and reformed over many hundreds of years, scholars divide the years into three main time periods: Pre-Classic (2000 B.C. to A.D. 250), Classic (A.D. 250 to 900) and Post-Classic (900 to 1519).
These travelers are thought to have originated in the South Altaic region of Central Asia .