The Maya civilization at the height of its power was perhaps the most technologically advanced civilization America had ever seen. They built large cities, studied astronomy, dominated southern Mexico and Central America politically, culturally, and militarily, and created complex calendars that still amaze people to this day. However, about 100 years after their peak (600-800 CE) the Mayans had all but disappeared, and the jungle reclaimed the ruins of their civilization. Cities were abandoned, temples stopped being built, and the historical record almost disappears after 904 CE. What could cause the rapid fall of such a mighty empire?
No one really knows. There are many theories, of course. Catastrophic events, famine, civil strife, environmental change, etc., have all been blamed for the decline of the Mayan civilization, but the fact is that no one really knows the cause. It’s one of the greatest mysteries in history, and although about 5 million descendants of the Mayans live in the Americas today, we have no definitive answer to how their kingdom fell over a millennia ago.