English Test 109
Directions for Questions from 1 to 5:
The passage given below is followed by a set of five questions. Choose the most appropriate answer to each question.
To summarize the Classic Maya collapse, we can tentatively identify five strands. I acknowledge, however, that Maya archaeologists still disagree
vigorously among themselves - in part, because the different strands evidently varied in importance among different parts of the Maya realm;
because detailed archaeological studies are available for only some Maya sites; and because it remains puzzling why most of the Maya heartland
remained nearly empty of population and failed to recover after the collapse and after re-growth of forests.
With those caveats, it appears to me that one strand consisted of population growth outstripping available resources: a dilemma similar to the one
foreseen by Thomas Malthus in 1798 and being played out today in Rwanda, Haiti, and elsewhere. As the archaeologist David Webster succinctly
puts it, "Too many farmers grew too many crops on too much of landscape." Compounding that mismatch between population and resources was
the second strand: the effects of deforestation and hillside erosion, which caused a decrease in the amount of useable farmland at a time when
more rather than less farmland was needed, and possibly exacerbated by an anthropogenic drought resulting from deforestation, by soil nutrient
depletion and other soil problems, and by the struggle to prevent bracken ferns from overrunning the fields.
The third strand consisted of increased fighting, as more and more people fought over fewer resources. Maya warfare, already endemic, peaked
just before the collapse. That is not surprising when one reflects that at least five million people, perhaps many more, were crammed into an area
smaller than the US state of Colorado (104,000 square miles). That warfare would have decreased further the amount of land available for
agriculture, by creating no-man's lands between principalities where it was n