The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context

Case Studies in Resilience and Vulnerability

edited by Gyles Iannone

"This book is a strong contribution to Maya archaeology because it challenges reductionist interpretations and celebrates the complexity of the past. Moreover, the volume provides a necessary academic response to the public and scholarly fascination with with the issue of Maya droughts that has taken hold over the last two decades."
−Thomas G. Garrison, Latin American Antiquity

"[T]he volume will appeal to a wide audience and represents an important contribution to Maya archaeology. . . . Highly recommended."

—E.R. Swenson, CHOICE

"This volume offers a vital multidisciplinary pespective that will help scholars of future generations to understand the diversity in historical trajectories and social responses to severe drought across time and space in the Maya lowlands."

—Julie A. Hoggarth, Journal of Anthropological Research 

"This excellent 15-chapter edited volume is not just for Mayanists, because it shows that the impacts of a changing climate are multidimensional and complex."

—Lisa J. Lucero, Antiquity


In The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context, contributors reject the popularized link between societal collapse and drought in Maya civilization, arguing that a series of periodic "collapses," including the infamous Terminal Classic collapse (AD 750), were caused not solely by climate change-related droughts but by a combination of other social, political, and environmental factors. New and senior scholars of archaeology and environmental science explore the timing and intensity of droughts and provide a nuanced understanding of socio-ecological dynamics, with specific reference to what makes communities resilient or vulnerable when faced with environmental change.

Contributors recognize the existence of four droughts that correlate with periods of demographic and political decline and identify a variety of concurrent political and social issues. They argue that these primary underlying factors were exacerbated by drought conditions and ultimately led to societal transitions that were by no means uniform across various sites and subregions. They also deconstruct the concept of "collapse" itself—although the line of Maya kings ended with the Terminal Classic collapse, the Maya people and their civilization survived.

The Great Maya Droughts in Cultural Context offers new insights into the complicated series of events that impacted the decline of Maya civilization. This significant contribution to our increasingly comprehensive understanding of ancient Maya culture will be of interest to students and scholars of archaeology, anthropology, geography, and environmental studies.

Contributors: James Aimers, Jaime Awe, Timothy Beach, George Brook, Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, James Conolly, Bruce H. Dahlin, Arthur A. Demarest, Nicholas Dunning, Kitty F. Emery, Anabel Ford, Charles Golden, Robert Griffin, David Hodell, Gyles Iannone, John Jones, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Carmen McCane, Holley Moyes, Udaysankar Nair, Ronald Nigh, Robert Oglesby, Matt O'Mansky, Jason Polk, Antoine Repussard, Vernon H. Scarboroug, Andrew K. Scherer, Henry P. Schwarcz, Thomas Sever, Erin Kennedy Thornton, Fred Valdez, David Wahl, David Webster, James Webster, Jason Yaeger





Gyles Iannone is associate professor of anthropology at Trent University.

Imprint: University Press of Colorado

Book Details

  • Hardcover Price: $79.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-60732-279-5
  • Ebook Price: $63.00
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-280-1
  • Publication Month: March
  • Publication Year: 2014
  • Pages: 448
  • Illustrations: 7 b&w photographs, 40 line drawings, 25 maps, 13 tables
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by Gyles Iannone
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-279-5