Looking for clues at Copán
Clues to this collapse can be found at Copán, a Maya site in western Honduras. Copán was once a Classic Maya royal center, the largest site in the southeastern part of the Maya area. Covering about 29 acres, it was built on the banks of the Copán River on an artificial terrace made of close to a million cubic feet of dirt. Over time, people spread out from the central core and built homes in outlying areas that had formerly been used for crops. Copán's nobles built smaller, rival complexes on sites that were increasingly further from the core.
In spite of its wealth, power, and size, Copán collapsed. No monuments seem to have been produced after A.D. 822. Does this mean that the collapse was sudden? Or is it possible that the society collapsed more gradually? To explore why Copán collapsed, try an archaeological activity and discover what scientists recently found when they examined the site.
What really happens when a society collapses? Can a society do anything to prevent a collapse? Find
out more in "Understanding Collapse."