Mayans

Tom Condit tomcondit at igc.apc.org
Mon Apr 3 21:12:58 MDT 1995


Three unrelated notes on the Mayans and the discussion of them on
this list:

1.  I have somewhere buried in mounds of journals an article on
the deforestation of the Yucatan under Maya rule.  From the
remnant populations of plants, reptiles, etc., in widely
scattered locations it's evident that the entire peninsula was
mainly deforested by agriculture in the Maya period and that the
present forest is almost all returned growth, with new species
coming in.  This doesn't prove anything one way or the other
about class struggle in the Maya period, but does lend evidence
for the argument of a fuel crisis at the very least.  The Mayan
peasantry had been reduced to a very poor diet by their communal
buddies the priests and kings, but the basics of that diet were
cocoa and tortillas, both of which require cooking.

2.  We can see evidence for the return to subsistence farming in
times of crisis not merely from Africa, but from the Soviet Union
in the early 1920s and the move of Black Americans "back to the
farm" during the great depression.  (The decade 1930-1940 is the
only one in U.S. history with a net black migration from north to
south.)

3.  Lisa Rogers might have added to her (excellent) comments on
farming and cities that we have a very similar development in the
U.S.  When I was in junior high school in the early 1950s, Los
Angeles County was the highest dollar-volume agricultural county
in the country, with the Santa Clara Valley (now "Silicon
Valley") not far behind.  Orange County doesn't have that name by
accident.  Millions of acres of class 1 soil have been destroyed
in this country because it's the easiest to build on--flat, near
cities and waterways, etc.  Then, of course, the poor suckers
who've been sold the land by real estate developers scream for
"flood control" to stop the natural forces which produced that
flat plain and great soil.

Tom Condit


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