One way that scientists define civilizations is by their writing, and for early civilizations, by their time keeping methodology. Classic Maya of the lowlands had a sophisticated writing system, pyramids and temples, limestone palaces, polychrome pottery and a unique artistic style which was reflected in everything from their vaulted ceilings and painted walls to their bas-reliefs and rows of stones arranged to form plazas. Much of the artwork which the Mayans are famous for today was developed in the Late Preclassic period. They had a 52 year calendar, with each day telling its own fortune, which was the only annual time count that any people in what is now Mexico had at that time (Coe, 47-50).
According to some accounts, the encroachment of the tropical rainforest on the Mayan lowlands during the Classical period accounting for the gradual physical disappearance of many old Mayan cities. However, a symposium organized by the School of American Research concluded that internal problems, including the increasingly parasitic role which the Mayan elite played, combined with other problems which will be discussed later, were among the "primary causes for the social, political and demographical collapse of the southern lowland Mayan city-states in the 9th century A.D." (Fash, 173).
In the case of the collapse of the Copan civilization, a dramatic increase in population which occurred between the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. placed a lot of stress on the Mayan political system and physical environment. After the interdependent political system in the area failed, the Mayan population began to decline, and they eventually abandoned this area. According to one scholar, the "lack of political unification . . . with tremendous transport and logistics problems hindering large-scale unification in the Maya lowlands, and in the social and religious constructs of the Maya culture" led to the demise of Copan and all other Classic Maya cen...
History of Mayans. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 17:14, January 28, 2015, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1304222140.html