Project

IHOPE-Maya: Using past to Inform the Future

Goal: I am working on using the Maya Lowlands cultural chronology to suggest how present day decision makers might use the rise and fall of the Maya interior cities as guidelines to avoid catastrophic collapses. This is under an organization headquartered in Stockholm called IHOPE (IHOPEnet.org).
Recent publication on human-planetary interactions in BioPhysical Economics: https://rdcu.be/bGlki    (Ask me for a pdf if need be)  Read-only link: https://rdcu.be/bZO2tRecent IHOPE-Maya publication: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol22/iss1/art20/

Updates
0 new
1
Recommendations
0 new
0
Followers
0 new
45
Reads
0 new
282

Project log

Joel Duane Gunn
added a research item
There were four global-scale crises in the first millennium. Three of them interrupting global warming episodes, one of them an interruption of a global cooling episode by a significant global warming episode. In some places they had little effect and in others were utterly catastrophic. We advocate examining the results of these interruptions as Earth System syndemics whose resolution involved global and local environments and cultures in multiple variable knowledge sets. Reformulating information knowledge sets selected by agents in the face of disasters define the means by which cultures face disasters and adjust to future periods. Natural and human knowledge sets are detectable by factoring(PCA). Factoring permits examination of global-local relationships as a whole-earth fabric defined by proxies that span large segments of world cultures and environments. Global crises are seen as bottlenecks in global and local ongoing cultural evolution that permit radical changes of philosophy and sustainable points of view. Utilizing the fabric metaphor in describing social and environmental relations is relatively common. We offer a means of translating large numbers of global variables into a vocabulary for interchangeably speaking of these matters in narrative, numerical and visual perspectives. For these and other reasons, societies and cultures from the 1st Millennium CE might be appropriate to examine decision making options in the current, 21st century world crisis(s).
Joel Duane Gunn
added a research item
This edited volume follows the similarly conceived volume AD 536: The Years without Summer (2000, BAR). That volume was inhabited by scholars of the 20th century: this one faces the future with presentations by scholars of the 21st century. Seven graduate students at the University of Bologna in Italy attended a seminar organized by professors Massimo Montanari and Tiziana Lazzari and focused on a topic selected by themselves, the AD 536 Crisis. Their interests generally range around the margins of the Roman Empire where various writing systems appeared in the Late Antique and Early Medieval periods: Central Asia, Sweden, Ireland, Oman in the Arabian Peninsula, and three on the Byzantine Empire (climate, coinage and agricultural plow configurations and reconfigurations). Their deep dives into these topics yield updated summaries of research since 2000 and some surprises: the Latin word used to describe deaths at King Arthurs's Battle of Camlann (AD 537) generally refers to mortality from natural causes, possibly plague, rather than violence; records of repairs to the Great Dam in Oman, the Queen of Sheba's realm, were discontinue around AD 536, but for a mix of reasons, including the onset of an unpredictable rainy season no longer suitable for agriculture, and the rise of a nomadic, Islamic culture. The volume can be retrieved by visiting ResearchGate.com or the web site of the Autonomous University of Campeche, Centro de Investigaciones Históricas y Sociales. Contributions by scholars from other parts of the world are invited by the editors.
Joel Duane Gunn
added a research item
Excavations at the Central Maya city of Calakmul in the 1980s/1990s by William J. Folan revealed over 15,000 stone artifacts along with vast numbers of ceramics and figurines. This report focuses on the stone implements and in the final chapter integrates them with ceramics, figurines, architecture, cultural history, and global/local climate change. The collection is surprisingly sparing of obsidian considering that the other materials range through jadeite, granite, limestone, chert, flint, and many others, many of them clearly imported from afar. In many material categories, artifact categories such as hand axes can be subtyped based on size modes. The interactions of subtypes, rooms, and structures are determined by repeated use of factor analysis (PC) to reveal the overall fabric of late-Late Classic to Terminal Classic (~750-900 CE) life at Calakmul. In this time period architecture becomes much more discernible as living space and workshops in rooms installed on the steps of the main pyramid. The population appears to have imploded onto the main ceremonial district that provided a convenient living space in a time when unrest and encastleation of small remnant populations was the norm across largely abandoned landscape.
Joel Duane Gunn
added a research item
IHOPE-MAYA BEGAN IN 2009 at the Center Advanced Research in Santa Fe and formed a loose research network calling irregularly for workshops and meetings. After the Santa Fe meeting, we proceeded to select a uniform set of data for evaluation by Principal Component Analysis (PCA) (Gunn and IHOPE-Maya-Members 2010, Gunn et al 2016) and a simulation was compiled of basic resources and social processes (Heckbert 2013, Heckbert et al. 2016). In 2014 Miller and Morissette (2014) published an article in Ecology and Society that suggests that development of actionable science intelligence for the benefit of decision makers versus global challenges, requires data analysis, simulation and construction of scenarios that Involve interested parties. This has been the long-term goal of the IHOPE organization globally, so we decided to take some time to evaluate our efforts in relationship with their suggestions and use the results for future plans. This work evaluates some of our collective efforts so far in light of the plan of analysis independently developed by Miller and Morisette, theirs’s animal species and ours about socio-ecological systems. Other findings to date, in particular, compare our simulations and analysis of data regarding the coherence of the information and the energy gradients of societies in the Central lowlands of the Maya. In the data analysis we find evidence of a complex adaptive system with emergent properties and possible attractors. We would like to understand these phenomena in terms of long term and multi-stage cultural adaptation (Iannone 2014). Next, we move on to what these results imply for decision making addressing global challenges in view of the methodology of Miller and Morisette. This document should be considered in the light of reading Miller and Morisette, since their regime raises many issues such as uncertainties, verification, alternative methods of simulation and analysis schemes of data that we need to address.
Joel Duane Gunn
added an update
La Trumpa Attractor is a published version of the paper IHOPE-Maya presented in the Vienna 2016 IIASA gathering of the IHOPE Science Advisory Board.  It lays out the idea that the southern Maya Lowlands in the context of its cultural chronology served as a basin of attraction for a landscape nexus of global climate, regional geography, and cultural practices.  Rather than being an "attractor basin" however, adding a time perspective creates through time something more like an attractor tornado that draws everything in its path (a la Braudel), and not unsurprisingly, in the end proves to be unsustainable.  A second alternative basin/tornado that served before the Classic periods was reimplemented in an expanded version after the 9th century collapse of the Mayan interior cities as a sustainable, arboriculture, fishing, and maritime commerce system that proved to be sustainable until the arrival of the Post-Columbian world wide economic system in the 1500s CE.   The Trampa Atractor paper was followed by a detailed study of the Maya information and energy characteristics (see Ecology and Society Distribution Analysis), and a study of how the concept could be applied to hundreds of similarly conceived tornadic basins around the world utilizing cultural chronologies, global climate proxies, and local information exchange frequencies (Biophysical Economics  Geo-cultural Time).  These papers use factor analysis to lay out the essential fabric of regional global-local climate relationships.  In the latter paper we applied a helical equation to characterize the through-time relationships. The Heckbert et al. paper describes a simulation of the Maya Classic system used in parallel with the information based distribution analysis. Thanks to IHOPE people and places for supporting and guiding this research.
 
Christian Isendahl
added a research item
The Classic period Puuc region presents Maya archaeologists with significant challenges. One challenge to interpretation lies in the fact that, despite a form of agro-urban settlement that proved highly resilient in the Maya Lowlands overall, Puuc cities flourished relatively briefly, beginning on a grand scale in the sixth century C.E. and with a halt in major building construction and depopulation in the tenth century C.E. This chapter focuses on analyzing how the Puuc economy depended on sustained economic growth and ultimately suffered its consequences for long-term agro-ecological sustainability. We suggest that an important clue to understanding urban collapse in the Puuc is found by looking at transitions in the net energy gain of the agricultural economy over the long-term. The boom-and-crash character of Puuc economic history follows a series of opportunities, challenges, and problem-solving with varying efficacy for long- and short-term sustainability and resilience. These factors include the highly fertile soils as the main resource; water scarcity as a limiting factor; effective water management as a key solution; and costly social complexity a driving force of agro-economic growth. The diminishing returns on energy invested were consequences of a dependency on economic growth as the supply of the primary resource decreased. The elite segments of polities were unable to adjust to decreasing returns, which led to economic decline and, eventually, organizational collapse. The boom-and-crash character of Puuc settlement suggests a political economy that had locked into dependency on constant growth and failed to adapt to diminishing returns.
Joel Duane Gunn
added 2 research items
Pursuit of a link between the collapse of Maya civilization and climate is a subject that has been revisited periodically for nearly a century. In the 1980s, we began to develop a climatic, paleoclimatic, and ethnographic model of horticultural production that would sustain urban life in an environment fundamentally hostile to large population aggregates. Our focus is on the appropriate conditions for the success of civilization, measured by architectural fluorishing, in the interior upland basins of the Yucatán Peninsula. To this we have added new research linking the now-collapsed interior cities and their bajo environments to near-shore deposits at the mouths of rivers. This study is based on the Candelaria River watershed of the southwestern Maya Lowlands in the modern Mexican state of Campeche. Campeche is separated from other regions of the Yucatán Peninsula by hills up to 400 m elevation. These elevated interior lands create important rain shadow effects, limitations on land use, and divide the landscape into valleys and basins. Past climates, local geography, and horticultural customs appear to be important to the success of civilizations in the interior. Results of the recent coring efforts suggest that the Maya of the Candelaria watershed controlled erosion during the period of greatest population, but lost control of it due to the ninth century drought and population dislocations.
Great attention has been focused on the southern trade routes across the Yucatan Peninsula through Tikal but little to the potential for crossing through Calakmul further to the north. This chapter shows that a combination of topography and politics make the Calakmul corridor the more efficient transit route. The political turmoil generated by Teotihuacan's involvement in Lowland trade following C.E. 378 cascaded into centuries of conflict between cities along the Tikal corridor and inhabitants of alternative routes. We trace the evolution of this conflict as influenced by landscape and climate, and decisions of the ambulatory Kaan Dynasty of El Mirador, Dzibanche, Calakmul and finally Calkini. The conflict seems to have played out in the elevated interior of the peninsula, the bone of contention perhaps being control of the Calakmul corridor through the Candelaria River. We suggest there are sufficient parallels between the Calakmul and European Rhône River corridors to draw a productive analogy between two, including that they both fall under the same synoptic climate system. Because the post-Columbian world economic system rose indirectly from the Rhône corridor, the two systems make a good test bed for thinking about the future evolution of the world system. The scale of comparison is rendered feasible by viewing the systems in terms of the scale of information transfer in which they were embedded. We offer three brief examples of how rise and decline of the Calakmul hegemony suggests ways of thinking about the future of the world economic system: warfare, sustainable design, and climate engineering.
Joel Duane Gunn
added a project goal
I am working on using the Maya Lowlands cultural chronology to suggest how present day decision makers might use the rise and fall of the Maya interior cities as guidelines to avoid catastrophic collapses. This is under an organization headquartered in Stockholm called IHOPE (IHOPEnet.org).
Recent publication on human-planetary interactions in BioPhysical Economics: https://rdcu.be/bGlki    (Ask me for a pdf if need be)  Read-only link: https://rdcu.be/bZO2tRecent IHOPE-Maya publication: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol22/iss1/art20/