This volume compares two of the most famous cases of civilizational collapse, that of the Roman Empire and the Classic Maya world. First examining the concept of collapse, and how it has been utilized in the historical, archaeological and anthropological study of past complex societies, Storey and Storey draw on extensive archaeological evidence to consider the ultimate failure of the institutions, infrastructure and material culture of both of these complex cultures.
Detailing the relevant economic, political, social and environmental factors behind these notable falls, Rome and the Classic Maya contends that a phenomenon of “slow collapse” has repeatedly occurred in the course of human history: complex civilizations are shown to eventually come to an end and give way to new cultures. Through their analysis of these two ancient case studies, the authors also present intriguing parallels to the modern world and offer potential lessons for the future.
Table of Contents
1 The Concept of Slow Collapse
2 The “Flood” of Catastrophe Books and Rethinking the Concept of Collapse
3 Introduction to the Case Studies: The Archaeological Evidence
4 The Political Economy of Collapse
5 The Political Dimension of Collapse
6 The Social Dimension of Collapse
7 The Environmental Dimension
8 The Validity of the Concept of “Slow Collapse” and Human Resilience
Rebecca Storey is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on the bioarchaeology of Maya populations in ancient Mesoamerica.
Glenn R. Storey is Associate Professor of Classics and Anthropology at the University of Iowa. His research interests include Mediterranean archaeology, Roman demography and the economy of the Roman Empire.