Drought and its demographic effects in the maya lowlands

Julie A. Hoggarth, Matthew Bennett Restall, James William Wood, Douglas James Kennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Increasing evidence supports the role of climate change in the disintegration of regional polities in the Maya lowlands at the end of the Classic Period (750–1000 CE). However, the demographic effects of drought remain largely unknown in the absence of Classic Period textual evidence indicating declines in agricultural productivity and population over this broad geographic area. To understand the relationship between climate change and demography, we compare historic records from the Colonial Period (1519–1821 CE) with a subannually resolved climate record for the region. We propose that multiyear droughts across the lowlands resulted in crop failure and severe famines that correlate with intervals of high mortality and migration within two extended dry intervals during the eighteenth century. Changes in population during the Colonial Period support Malthusian models of demography that may be used to conceptualize population dynamics at the end of the Classic Period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-113
Number of pages32
JournalCurrent anthropology
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Fingerprint

demography
drought
climate change
population development
eighteenth century
evidence
mortality
productivity
climate
migration
Drought
Maya Lowlands
Demographics
Classical Age
Climate Change
Colonial Period
Demography

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology

Cite this

Hoggarth, Julie A. ; Restall, Matthew Bennett ; Wood, James William ; Kennett, Douglas James. / Drought and its demographic effects in the maya lowlands. In: Current anthropology. 2017 ; Vol. 58, No. 1. pp. 82-113.
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Drought and its demographic effects in the maya lowlands. / Hoggarth, Julie A.; Restall, Matthew Bennett; Wood, James William; Kennett, Douglas James.

In: Current anthropology, Vol. 58, No. 1, 01.02.2017, p. 82-113.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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