Daniel Quinn That's alright. The villages became towns, the towns became cities, cities became city-tates, then nations, then empires. And that brings us to the present, where we came to the New World, the world that was new to us about five hundred  years ago. Moving in from the Eastern seaboard, we found traces of a civilization: mounds. But not a very impressive civilization, and the mound builders were nowhere, they were gone. And moving still further in, and moving South into Central America, they found something that completely surprised them, which were the Incas and the Aztecs, who had civilizations that were actually richer than anything they'd ever seen -- but not powerful. And the Spanish overran them, took down their power structure, and replaced it with their own; wiped them out.
As it went on, they found traces of extinct civilizations: the Maya, the Olmec, and the city state of Teotihuacan. What they saw there was a puzzle, because our civilization has lived for ten thousand years, if you start from the beginning, the villages; and these civilizations went on for a few thousand years, and then were, apparently, abandoned. Why in the world would such a thing happen? They might have been invaded and conquered; but when the Romans invaded Britain, they didn't leave it behind as a ruin, they just took over Britain for a time. And when the Spaniards came to the Incas and the Aztecs, they didn't leave those behind as ruined civilizations.
So what happened to these civilizations, the Maya and the Olmec and the people of Teotihuacan? It was a puzzle that remained a puzzle for hundreds of years. It still is a puzzle for many. They came up with all sorts of theories to explain it. [searching through notes]
There's one theory that explains the Olmec abandonment: "Environmental changes that might have rendered the region unsuited for large scale." There's another: "Changes triggered by tectonic upheavals." Another: "The silting up of rivers." Another: "Volcanic eruptions "
Here are some theories to explain the Mayan abandonment: overpopulation, foreign invasion (by whom, no one has any idea, not even a theory), peasant revolt, environmental distasters, epidemic disease, climate change, a drought,
The theories for the city Teotihuacan: droughts again, nameless (again) unknown invaders, maybe from outer space, /
Rob Kall: (laughs)
Daniel Quinn - who sacked and burned the structures and dwellings associated primarily with class, the elite class. Some people think that this suggests an internal uprising that forced an executive decision to quit. But think: our civilization suffered all of this, whole regions rendered unfit for farming, countless earthquakes, countless rivers silting up, countless volcanic eruptions, countless peasant revolts, droughts, epidemics. But we're still here!