Both the perceived successes and failures of the Maya are often linked to their relationship with the local environment and their response to episodes of climate change over a period of nearly 2000 years. However, our understanding of human responses to environmental stress has mostly been shaped by a narrow focus on drought as a cause for societal collapse, even in relatively well-watered tropical regions. We still know little about the choices humans make in response to extreme variability in rainfall in different environmental conditions and on multiple timescales. This work responds to recent debates and new analytical opportunities in Maya studies, provided by developments such as an increased volume of paleoclimatic data, the growing field of settlement archaeology and advances in Maya epigraphy. By combining a range of evidence, the book explores the relationship between Maya society and the local environment on multiple spatial and temporal scales, while also taking into account socio-cultural agencies. In addition, results from ethnographic fieldwork among contemporary Maya communities provide insights into the impact of stress-inducing climatic events on people’s lives and their coping strategies. These serve as a guide when looking for similar patterns in archaeological and textual evidence.
Eva Jobbová is a Maya archaeologist interested in a broad range of topics including the development of Neotropical urbanism, the growth of social complexity and societal collapse, and the choices humans make in response to spatial and temporal variation in climate and environmental stress. Currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College Dublin, she is involved in a project focusing on Irish droughts.
‘This is a fascinating study that compiles detailed and well-researched information from several different fields to approach the question of ancient environmental stress and response in the Maya area. This work has global implications.’ Dr Kitty F. Emery, Florida Museum of Natural History
‘This work is a great contribution to the understanding of the human-environment interactions among the Mayan communities. It will be of interest not only for specialists dealing with Maya archaeology but also for all those scholars interested in the past human-environment interactions.’ Dr Alessio Palmisano, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München