Collapse of Civilizations Essay

Collapse of Civilizations Essay

Length: 1306 words (3.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The factors that lead to the “collapse” of civilizations are almost directly related to those that created it. Archaeologists characterize collapse by a number of elements, some of which we have evidence for, others we do not. Most archaeologists are unsure of exactly what caused the decline of most civilizations in the ancient world, yet there are many clues to some of the events that could have contributed. The collapse of the ancient Roman Empire, the Mesoamerican Mayan, and the Egyptian cultures will be discussed in the following paragraphs, with a focus on the uniqueness of each.
     “Collapse” is in quotations because its definition when applied to civilizations is often debated.

Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary states:

1: to fall or shrink together abruptly and completely: fall into a jumbled or flattened mass through the force of external pressure
2: to break down
3: to cave or fall in or give way
4: to suddenly lose force, significance, effectiveness, or worth
5: to break down in vital energy, stamina, or self-control through exhaustion or disease; especially: to fall helpless or unconscious
6: to fold down into a more compact shape

Although this definition can vaguely describe the overall fall of most civilizations, the actual details are more finite. One such event would be an environmental change. Archaeologists use this as a reason for the decline of civilizations often because it fits so well into any situation. A terrifying earthquake, a change in flow of a vital river, and a volcanic eruption are examples of what could have happened to abruptly end a civilization. Another reason might be over use of natural resources. As civilizations grew, the need for more resources increased. They could not grow enough food to support the growing population, and as a result trade networks fell apart, people began to starve, and large epidemics spread. Also many of these civilizations based everything on ideology. They believe that their rulers were gods on earth, so when these devastating things started happening, they lost faith in their ruler. Building temples, making statues of their kings, redistributing their goods, and the following of rulers all ceased. The accumulation of all these factors resulted in decline.
     For a long period of time, the Mayan civilization was assumed to ha...


... middle of paper ...


...n 1163 B.C., Egypt entered a period of slow decline (Scarre 1997:116). Pharaohs became less powerful, and their prestige dwindled. Hungry soldiers were terrorizing the community, while tomb robbers were raiding the pyramids for resources that were very much needed. They had buried their pharaohs with food, goods and jewelry, all of which were needed to keep the civilization in tact. They had built too many pyramids, and there were setbacks in Asia which corrupted trade. People did not understand why the pharaohs could not fix the problems that were going on. They viewed them as gods and lost trust and faith. Egypt fell apart as these things culminated with loss of belief in the pharaohs.
These three civilizations all had a decline that can not be totally explained. Each unique yet similar in different ways. Both the Egyptian and Mayan civilization seemed to have declined because of agricultural and ideological reasons, and all three had to do with a loss of power and trust in rulers. There are many factors that create a civilization or empire and make it powerful. The corruption and loss of these same factors is what leads to the decline of an otherwise successful civilization.


Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Fundamental societal changes leading to collapse of civilizations

- Fundamental societal changes leading to collapse of civilizations The historical implications of climacteric change are not to be overlooked. For a period in history to be considered climacteric, there must be a multitude of wide ranging fundamental changes that have a long lasting effect upon civilization. The time period between 2000 and 1000 BCE was climacteric due to many factors, the most prominent being the radical changes in environment and government. A stable environment is necessary for civilization to thrive....   [tags: Mesopotamians, Hittites, Egyptians]

Strong Essays
809 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Comparison Between Civilizations And Civilizations

- Compare and Contrast Civilizations Throughout history, the way civilizations have changed over time have varied greatly, in the specific environment civilizations where located. Civilizations can be located near rivers, trough arid land, and with predictable or unpredictable climate. With the environment being anything form the surrounding vegetation, to neighboring villages that may pose a potential threat. Civilizations need to establish themselves within the environment has led many to warfare and others to collapse....   [tags: Ancient Egypt, Indus Valley Civilization]

Strong Essays
1243 words (3.6 pages)

Maya Civilization Collapse Essay

- The example of societal collapse in which I will be making reference to throughout this essay is the Maya civilization. The Maya civilization is, “probably the best known of all early American civilizations.” (Fagan, 1995) It was at its strongest point between AD 300 AND 900. Around AD 900 was the time of its collapse. This civilization was developed in a densely, tropical forest on either highlands or lowlands. Today to visit a Mayan site, people would go to the modern Mexican state, capital city of Merida....   [tags: Societal Collapse, Climate Change]

Strong Essays
1318 words (3.8 pages)

Collapse by Jared Diamond Essay example

- In this work, Jared Diamond explained how civilizations or societies amongst the world developed faster than others during the same period of time. His main focus was the Europeans; they were the dominant society and were known for their advanced technology. The book starts off with the author, Jared who gives us a brief discussion about pre-history and life 13,000 years after the last Ice Age. As a biologist he studied the evolution of birds on the tropical island of New Guinean where he met a local politician named Yali....   [tags: ice age, civilization]

Strong Essays
756 words (2.2 pages)

The Collapse of the Greenland Norse Essay

- In Jared Diamond’s novel 'Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed' he discusses many civilizations that moved away from their homelands, grew in population, and then either failed or succeeded in their new environments. Throughout this essay I will attempt to explain the Collapse of the Greenland Norse, one of the many societies to rise and fall. The Greenland Norse faced multiple challenges including economical, agricultural, and unfriendly neighbors. Alongside Greenland other North Atlantic islands faced geographical challenges that lead to some of their falls as well....   [tags: european history]

Strong Essays
755 words (2.2 pages)

The Effects of Climate Change on Ancient Civilizations Essay

- ... Argaric Culture Dating between 1800 BC and 1300 BC, the Argaric culture was one of the very first modern civilizations. Characterized by their early adoption of bronze, the Argaric culture quickly gained dominance over other societies. However, El Argar reached its peaked after a severe drought. According to data from ‘Eco-ruin ‘felled early society’, the early civilization was drained of its natural resources causing their own downfall. These findings were based off of pollen preserved in compost deposits located in the mountains of eastern Andalucía, Spain....   [tags: drought, archaeologists, downfall]

Strong Essays
961 words (2.7 pages)

Factors Leading to The Collapse of Past Societies Essay

- At present day, our worldwide civilization of the human race continues to surpass many achievements of other past societies. Everyday, new technological advances are being achieved and the population is growing faster than it ever previously has. We must look back at past civilizations and analyze them to understand what is in store for us in the future. In the pursuit of progress, human societies create problems they do not have the resources or political motivation to solve, for fear of short term losses in status or quality of life, which prevents further advancements and sometimes leads to collapse.1 Three factors that have enabled past civilizations to fall into progress traps and ultim...   [tags: Social Studies]

Strong Essays
1694 words (4.8 pages)

The Collapse Of The Inca Civilization Essay

- The Collapse of the Inca Civilization The collapse of a complex society is the resultant force of rapid simplification (Tainter, 1990). Whether intrinsically or extrinsically inflicted, exploitation of the very factors with which societal complexity is achieved may initiate the collapse of a civilization (Tainter, 1990). A total of six factors signal the attainment of societal complexity (i.e., urbanization, complex economy, scientific enhancement, public architecture, state religion, and social organization)....   [tags: Inca Empire, Inca, Sapa Inca, Francisco Pizarro]

Strong Essays
1389 words (4 pages)

Essay on Soil Erosion and The Erosion of Civilizations

- Soil erosion began with the dawn of agriculture, when people abandoned their hunter-gatherer lifestyles and began using the land for intensive agriculture, thus removing the protective vegetation cover and growing food crops on disturbed soil surfaces. For many civilizations, it is believed that surface wash erosion, that can occur unnoticed until it is too late, was a main contributing factor for their demise. Soil erosion and other degradative processes have destroyed, over the millennia, as much arable land as is now cultivated....   [tags: Soil Erosion]

Free Essays
310 words (0.9 pages)

Minoan and Mycenean Civilizations Essay

- No one can deny that Greek civilization has had an impact on western civilization. If it wasn't for Archeology and the scientists involved in that field; all we would know about the History of Ancient Greece would be based on conjectures, myths, and the stories of ancient historians like Erothotos and Thikithithis, which although would help a great deal about the times they were living in; it would be useless for the period's before they lived. An example would be the Bronze age; which is the time period that the famous Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations flourished....   [tags: Ancient History]

Free Essays
841 words (2.4 pages)