Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Archaeologist George Bey examines a shard of pottery found buried in the floor of a home at Kiuc

Archaeologists discover new clues why the Maya left: Bird calls ring from the forest, echoing in the middle of the breakdown ruins whose gloomy doorways have long beckoned explorers and scholars.

The Maya who built the ruins of Kiuic here fled those doorways in a rush, an international archaeology team now realizes. Left behind may be frozen-in-time clues to the mythical collapse of their civilization.

The ancient Maya fled Kiuic, nestled in the Puuc (pook) foothills of the Yucatan, around 880. “Things were going full-bore, construction was underway. And things stopped,” Bey says.

Archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson,Miss arise a question: Why did they leave? And he also added the ancient Maya fled Kiuic, nestled in the Puuc foothills of the Yucatan, around 880. “Things were going full-bore, construction was underway”.

Archaeologists have explored Kiuic’s ruins for more than a century, but working since 2000, George Bey and colleagues are now reporting the first evidence of this rapid desertion. USA TODAY was invited to the site to see what has been exposed in the most recent archaeology excavations.

Maya populated the lowland forests of Central America during Europe’s Dark Ages, build a civilization of pyramids, palaces and slash-and-burn “milpa” farms made by flaming trees and planting seeds in the ash. Maya rulers oversaw city states that warred with one another, created detailed calendars and lasted centuries. The abandonment of those monument scattered centers stands as one of archaeology’s most-debated mysteries. The “collapse” was underway in modern-day Guatemala by 800, but didn’t take place at Kiuic until almost a century later.

At Kiuic, “the evidence for rapid abandonment now appears more compelling,” says archaeologist Takeshi Inomata. Kiuic has been visited by archaeologists since at least 1841, when John Lloyd Stephens, recorded the site for his Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. During excavations last year, archaeologists found pottery and stone tools left in place inside homes, including a wealthy farmer’s kitchen room perched on the edge of the hill.

Kiuic’s population boomed, reaching perhaps 4,000 inhabitants, just as the centers more than 200 miles farther south

The team will keep on raising questions with each new bit of evidence, aiming to uncover clues to Kiuic’s collapse and the wider fall of a civilization.

For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.

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