Chestertown, MD, January 22, 2007 — It is one of the world's great archaeological mysteries—not to mention the springboard for much speculation and poetic license in the recent Mel Gibson movie "Apocalypto." What really did happen to Mayan civilization? What caused this sophisticated, thriving network of city-states to collapse so quickly? Archaeologist Dr. John L. Seidel will explore the most recent evidence when he presents "Apocalypse: Environment and the Collapse of the Maya" at Washington College's Litrenta Lecture Hall this Friday, January 26, at 4:30 p.m.
The ancient Maya flourished in Central America for more than 2,000 years, beginning around 1200 B.C. Known for their spectacular art, sculpture and building skills, they lived in densely packed cities throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Today these sites are covered by dense rain forest, with pyramids and temples emerging from the top of the verdant canopy.
Apocalyptic events seem to have overtaken the Classic Maya at about 800-900 A.D. Many of their cities were abandoned, populations crashed and the civilization collapsed. What happened to these impressively accomplished people? How is it that one of the world's great civilizations came to such an abrupt end?
Dr. John L. Seidel, Interim Director of Washington College's Center for the Environment & Society, is a specialist in Mayan studies. He recently returned from his latest Central American sojourn, visiting ancient ruins and delivering lectures on Mayan archaeology.
Litrenta Lecture Hall is in the John S. Toll Science Center. Admission to "Apocalypse: Environment and the Collapse of the Maya" is free and open to the public. For more information, call 410-810-7161.