The Maya and Climate Change (2022)

My first book The Maya and Climate Change: Human-Environmental Relationships in the Classic Period Lowlands was just published by Oxford University Press in November 2022. It is public-facing overview of all the things we have learned in recent years about how Maya communities managed their natural resources. It aims to shift the focus away from the societal breakdown at the end of the Classic Period to the 700+ years of resilience that preceded it.

It is available for purchase on the Oxford University Website or on Amazon.

Book Description:

The Classic Maya civilization, which thrived between 200-950 CE in eastern Mesoamerica, faced many environmental challenges, including those wrought by climate change. The ability of Maya communities to adapt their resource conservation practices played a crucial role in allowing them to survive for as long as they did. Researchers today understand that the breakdown of Classic Maya society was the result of many long-term processes. Yet the story that continues to grip the public imagination is that the Maya civilization mysteriously “collapsed”. The Maya and Climate Change draws on archaeological, environmental, and historical datasets to provide a comprehensive, yet accessible, overview of Classic Maya human-environment relationships, including how communities addressed the challenges of climatic and demographic changes. It works to shift the focus from the Classic Maya “collapse” to the multiple examples of adaptive flexibility that allowed Pre-Colonial Maya communities to thrive in a challenging natural environment for over seven centuries.

Although the Classic Maya civilization did not leave behind much in the way of secret environmental knowledge for us to rediscover, one of the critical lessons that can be learned from studying the Classic Maya is the importance of socio-ecological adaptability–the ability and willingness to change cultural practices to address long-term challenges.

CSUDH-LACMA Visiting Scholars Program Projects

CSUDH-LACMA Scholars work with LACMA Curatorial Staff to manage their ancient artifacts.

In Spring 2020, Dr. Alyce de Carteret, Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow at LACMA, and I co-created the CSUDH-LACMA Visiting Scholars Program. Since then, a dozen CSUDH students have gained hands-on experience working with LACMA curatorial staff on digital curation and collections management. Each student completes their LACMA experience by writing a short piece about a specific aspect of the curatorial experience that is published on the official LACMA blog: Unframed.

“The Many Lives of Artifacts” by Rubi Landa

“Dancing Through Time” by Sarahi Vargas

“Art of the Ancient Ones” by Katherine Gendron

“Examining Tlatilco Figurines” by Fernanda Hernandez

“Photogrammetry and LACMA’s Art of the Ancient Americas Collection” by Jean Pickard

“Classic Maya Figural Vessels” by Karen Carrillo