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9 ancient man-made environmental catastrophes

Collapse of the Mayan Civilization

Photo: kyle simourd/Flickr

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Collapse of the Mayan civilization

The Mayans, one of the mightiest civilizations in the Americas, may have collapsed because of a smorgasbord of ecological problems. Their bloated overpopulation was sustained for a short time due to a system of slash-and-burn agriculture, which eventually destroyed the forests, exhausted the soil and caused biological diversity to dwindle.