World History: Journey Across Time

Chapter 16: The Americas

Student Web Activity

"The Americas"

Thousands of years ago, the first people arrived in the Americas. The Maya, Aztec, Inca, and many other Native American cultures flourished in North and South America. As you've learned in this chapter, these civilizations fell. We know that some, like the Aztec and Inca, fell to Spanish invaders. Others, like the Maya, left little evidence to help us determine the cause of their decline. In this activity, you will learn the reasons why civilizations decline. You will work as an archaeologist to uncover the reasons behind the collapse of Copán, a once-thriving center of the Maya civilization. Visit the Annenberg/CPB feature titled "Collapse: Why Do Civilizations Fall?" to begin your adventure.

Visit "Collapse: Why Do Civilizations Fall?" to discover the secrets of the Maya and the decline of a Native American civilization.

Destination Title:  "Collapse: Why Do Civilizations Fall?"

Note: Clicking on the link above will launch a new browser window.
Need help using your browser for this activity? Click here for tips.

Start at "Collapse: Why Do Civilizations Fall?"

  • Read the introduction and then click on "Ready to Get Started?"
  • After you've read through this page, click on "Why Did Copán Collapse?" to begin your work as an archaeologist.
  • Study the clues and come to a conclusion on the collapse of Copán.
  • Next, click on "Understanding Collapse" to gain more insight on this topic.

After you've read through the content, answer the following questions.

Describe the Copán Valley.
What did you learn from the skulls found at Copán?
What artifact, found in and around Copán homes, led archaeologists to believe that Copán was overpopulated?
List two of the six "prerequisites for survival" as stated by scientists Thuman and Bennet.
Now that you've determined the critical components for survival, analyze U.S. society to determine whether or not these components exist. Create a chart detailing your findings.
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