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NOVA scienceNOW: Maya

Program Overview


Scientists investigate ancient Mayan temples and ruins in Guatemala to better understand factors that contributed to the collapse of ancient Mayan civilization.

This NOVA scienceNOW segment:

  • describes how the ancient Mayans dominated Central America for 12 centuries and that the city of Tikal was a bustling metropolis and center of culture that lasted for 1,000 years, while Europe was still in the Dark Ages.

  • questions how the ancient Mayan civilization, numbering in the millions, could have lost around 80 percent of its population in about 40 years.

  • introduces archeologist Bill Saturno and his team, who are searching for the beginnings of Mayan civilization to better understand how it collapsed.

  • discusses a NASA remote-sensing satellite technology that uses infrared radiation to reveal hidden land details that can be visualized on maps.

  • concludes with the theory that Mayans may have been partly responsible for their own collapse by destroying their environment and contributing to a significant drought.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
NOVA scienceNOW: Maya
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