Out of the Past Series -- Annenberg / CPB
Use this humanistic approach to archaeology and anthropology to make
connections between past civilizations and modern societies, including
how societies function and change. This series helps bring cultural
ecology to light using physical evidence and scientific detective
work. On-site filming at the spectacular Classic Maya center of Copán,
Honduras, shows archaeologists reconstructing this ancient society.
In addition, past and present cultures in Central and North America,
Africa, Europe, and the Middle East are explored. Produced by Pennsylvania
State University and WQED/Pittsburgh. 1993.
The decline and fall of civilizations captures our interest. Could
we be next, going the way of the Sumerians, the Romans, the Maya?
The collapse of Copan, brought on by overpopulation and overexploitation
of resources, is explored, along with other ancient cultures that
have faced the problems we confront today.
Do Civilizations Fall? -- Annenberg /
"Hundreds of years ago in what is now modern Honduras, Copán
was a thriving center of Maya life. Tens of thousands of people made
their home in the Copán Valley. Yet despite its importance, Copán
went into decline. Across the vast territory of the ancient Maya,
other important sites were sharing a similar fate. Classic Maya civilization
"Why did this great civilization fall? The history of humankind
has been marked by patterns of growth and decline. Some declines have
been gradual, occurring over centuries. Others have been rapid, occurring
over the course of a few years. War, drought, natural disaster, disease,
overpopulation, economic disruption: any of these can bring about
the collapse of a civilization. Internal causes (such as political
struggles or overfarming) can combine with external causes (such as
war or natural disaster) to bring about a collapse. What does this
mean for modern civilizations? What can we learn from the past?"