New Findings Shatter Old Mayan Theories
Decades of local disasters slowly undermined their cities
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2008 6:59 PM CDT
View of the jade mask of Mayan King Pakal, at the National Museum of Anthropology and History, in Mexico City.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Some experts want to drain Mayan history of its high drama—the sudden collapse, and desperate migration—to tell a longer, slower story, USA Today reports. Classic history claims that Mayan cities imploded quickly around 900 AD, and their people trekked north to colonize in the Yucatan—but experts now say that Mayans had already lived there for 1,000 years.

Also, Mayan cities probably broke up due to decades of local disasters, not a single catastrophe: "The public needs to understand that the so-called Maya collapse was not an overnight affair that resulted in the total disappearance of the Maya people," one expert said, adding that indigenous Maya still exist. "The collapse took place over a period of more than 200 years."