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Mayan Plumbing Found In Ancient City 220

Posted by kdawson
from the series-of-tubes dept.
DarkKnightRadick writes "An archaeologist and a hydrologist have published evidence that the ancient Mayans had pressurized plumbing as early as sometime between the year 100 (when the city of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico, was first founded) and 800 (when it was abandoned). While the Egyptians had plumbing way earlier (around 2500 BC), this is the first instance of plumbing in the New World prior to European exploration and conquest."
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Mayan Plumbing Found In Ancient City

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  • pattern? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ascari (1400977) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:44PM (#32093278)
    There was Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in the Indus valley, then the Egyptians, then the Mayans. Is it just coincidence that advanced cultures tend to go under within a couple of centuries after they invent plumbing? If so, are we doomed?
  • by pipedwho (1174327) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:48PM (#32093310)

    However, even today we see some cultures who shit in the water that they drink. India is one such culture, and it's prevalent in Africa, too.

    I thought it was people shitting in the water upstream from where 'somebody else' drinks.

  • Re:pattern? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by M. Baranczak (726671) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:53PM (#32093342)

    Is it just coincidence that advanced cultures tend to go under within a couple of centuries after they invent plumbing?

    Cultures go under all the time, with or without plumbing.

    are we doomed?

    Most certainly.

  • Re:pattern? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OnePumpChump (1560417) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:53PM (#32093344)
    If you don't have to go outside to shit, you grow complacent and weak.
  • Re:Unfortunately (Score:1, Insightful)

    by biryokumaru (822262) <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @09:59PM (#32093382)
    No (-) Troll, (+) Funny!
  • Re:pattern? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cryacin (657549) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @10:01PM (#32093394)
    More like you let someone else deal with your shit. That permeates to all aspects and corners of life. Another example that springs to mind is outsourcing.
  • Re:pattern? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @10:48PM (#32093640) Journal
    I doubt that it's the plumbing per se; but a rise in interlocking technical and social complexity really helps if you want to "go under" in a way dramatic enough for history to notice.

    Barring fairly rare events(like the sudden appearance of really nasty plagues, or an advanced culture showing up and gunning you down, or both), low-complexity cultures don't really "collapse" in any useful sense. They wax and wane a bit, some years good some years bad, and they may undergo various sorts of linguistic and genetic shifts due to warfare and migration; but they aren't specialized enough for things to really go to hell.

    If you have interlocking specialization, though, you have entire institutions, and populations, that are basically dependent on large numbers of other structures and people for their continued existence. This makes it fairly easy for the right push to, instead of "reducing the hunter-gatherer population by ~10%" do something more along the lines of "catastrophic mass starvation, entire cities abandoned to the flames, the capital investments of 200 years annihilated within months".
  • It's hypocritical to an extent, but then again, the Jews and Christians typically don't threaten to kill you or follow through on their threats. I blame the moderate Muslims who say almost nothing against their extremist brethren. Other Christians put George Tiller in jail. Why is Osama still free?

  • by corbettw (214229) <corbettwNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:20PM (#32093828) Journal

    Getting rid of ugly virgins? What kind of sacrifice is that?

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:22PM (#32093840)

    No , they sacrificed virgins to prevent that.

    Don't say that on Slashdot!

    Some people might get nervous around here....

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday May 04, 2010 @11:33PM (#32093870) Homepage Journal

    The question is, did those ancient Roman and Indian physicians actually know about germs, or were they just making a lucky guess? Without a microscope, the idea of "miasma" ("bad air") as an explanation for infectious disease, which was popular up through the 19th c., actually makes just about as much sense as germ theory. So I'd be interested to know the process by which the ancients arrived at their conclusion -- unless they devised some very clever experiments, they didn't really know what they were dealing with.

  • Re:Pretty Neat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:01AM (#32094042) Homepage Journal

    Any emperor who adopted a "fewer legions" policy would find himself replaced with extreme prejudice by somebody willing to do the opposite.

    For some reason, I'm having mental images of Roman legions marching through Iraq and Afghanistan, with predator drones buzzing overhead.

  • Re:pattern? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by M. Baranczak (726671) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:04AM (#32094062)

    Oh, for those innocent years when we thought we could solve the world's problems by breakdancing.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:13AM (#32094118)

    The question is, did those ancient Roman and Indian physicians actually know about germs, or were they just making a lucky guess?

    But you can apply such an argument to anybody who doesn't have all the facts. Did Robert Boyle know, for certain, that gases were composed of minute particles, the kinetics of which could be used to derive his "Boyle's Law?" He did not. In the same sense as you are now implying, he made a "lucky guess." A guess which turned out to be correct, and his name has survived in history even though, in modern terms, he didn't know what the fuck he was talking about.

    If somebody posits that minute organisms are the ultimate cause of disease, then I give that person props. I really don't give a shit that he cannot prove whether he's right. That fact is, he IS right. You attitude smacks of the bitterness of a person who has perpetually sought success but never achieved it. Whatever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:17AM (#32094136)

    " Funny how it took western civilization over 1500 years to get back to where medicine was at the peak of the Roman Empire. Marcus Varro, 36 B.C."

    Blame Christianity.

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <.gro.todhsals. .ta. .deteled.> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @12:26AM (#32094196)

    Well, the old Greeks already knew about atoms (that’s where the name comes from, after all), and also about steam engines.

    But you can thank mostly the churches for going back to bullshit magic and being unable to write (except for the privileged) in what is called “the dark ages” for a reason...

  • Re:Pretty Neat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:46AM (#32094874)

    One wonders how something that happened in 1492 could cause the Classic Maya collapse, which happened around 800. Did they discover time travel in 1492?

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:31AM (#32095386) Homepage Journal

    Boyle's laws can be confirmed by experiment without knowledge of the kinetics; he wasn't just guessing, he was formulating a model based on his observations. With regards to infectious disease, this is roughly equivalent to sanitary practices, which can be shown to work without an underlying knowledge of germ theory. But if you're going to propose a mechanism -- the behavior of gas molecules in the first case, that of infectious microorganisms in the second -- then unless you have some kind of evidence, then yes, it's a lucky guess. There is a reason why "model" and "theory" are two different words. Note that I'm not claiming models aren't useful; of course they are. But they do not lead to understanding of the underlying mechanisms in and of themselves.

  • by KiloByte (825081) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @04:34AM (#32095400)

    They used male virgins, who are dime a dozen, both now and then.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:12AM (#32095826)

    The IRA were trying to reunify Ireland, and were handing out death sentences to those who occupied their country not those who blasphemed their religion.

    However the viewpoint of muslims as violent stems from a general ignorance of Islam coupled with western media coverage of Muslims being limited to the the Middle East and also being generally confined to reporting on sensationalism such as fatwas made by extremist nutjobs and the violent tensions in and surrounding Israel and extrapolating these to Muslims worldwide.

    Muslims are terrorists just like Catholics are pedos and the youth of today are degenerates. The media told me so.

  • Re:Pretty Neat (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:33AM (#32095912)

    First of all: Population != Civilisation

    Second: You're thinking of the Inca's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inca). The Mayans had already collapsed before the Spanish arrived (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:34AM (#32095918)

    If somebody posits that minute organisms are the ultimate cause of disease, then I give that person props. I really don't give a shit that he cannot prove whether he's right. That fact is, he IS right. You attitude smacks of the bitterness of a person who has perpetually sought success but never achieved it. Whatever.

    There is a huge difference between "lucky guess" and "can't prove he's right".

    For example, ask any random person on the street whether P != NP. Now, maybe in a hundred years, it'll turn out they were right. Are you gonna give them props? I'd hope not.

    What you don't seem to be getting is that it could well be that the Romans were just talking out of their asses, too, coming up with all sorts of loopy theories about where diseases are from, and one of them just happened to be right, purely by chance.

    I don't know whether that's the case or whether the Romans *really* had a good reason to suspect there really was such a thing as germs. But I realize it's not the same thing, at least.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @06:43AM (#32095970)

    Pics or it didn't happen.

    (Seriously, are Slashdotters really so gullible as to believe random AC's scare stories? And I'm saying that as a random AC myself!)

  • Re:Pretty Neat (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:21AM (#32096148)

    But wait, didn't you vote in the guy who wanted to end the war, not the guy who wanted it to last a century? What happened to that anyway? Surely he couldn't have caved to the lobbyists, he was going to curtail their power too. What happened to that anyway? Just another useful idiot I guess.

  • by vegiVamp (518171) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:56AM (#32096308) Homepage
    They're still at it, aren't they ? Condoms don't work against HIV, prayer does.
  • Re:Pretty Neat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:11PM (#32102106) Homepage Journal

    Is it really that different from the Vikings, given the Nordic experiments in international trade? The British Empire also ran out of places to invade and ran out of ways to pay for a gigantic military infrastructure. If you look at the Hittite Empire, we still don't know much about the collapse other than their expansion started to decline and they plunged into a bunch of civil wars soon after.

    I'm going to offer the following conjecture: that ANY militaristic power above a certain size, in order to survive, MUST grow OR collapse, that the cost of maintaining the military will exceed the disposable resources in the event of any unusual domestic expenditure, and that as the militaristic power grows, the size of event required to throw the system out-of-kilter grows smaller. Expansion (the confiscation of other people's disposable resources) is the only way to keep the power from disintegrating under the strain.

    I'll offer a much more controversial conjecture as well: that ANY power of ANY kind, above a certain size, in which some specific domain provides a significant net drain on resources, will be equally unstable and MUST expand within that domain for the same reason as above. Thus, an intellectual society MUST expand knowledge fast enough to be able to cover the costs of that focus by borrowing from what the society is learning. An engineering society must further its skill in that domain continuously or implode.

    To a lesser degree, this must also be true of any differences in abilities between any two fields, no matter what they are. The greater the gap, the greater the odds that society will run into a situation where one needs to borrow from the other to avert decay or collapse, but can't. It must also be true whether the gap is caused by excessive expansion in one area, OR excessive decline in another. You end up with a gap either way.

    Thus, if this is correct, all other collapses of all other societies MUST eventually be traceable to distorted progress in some way, no matter what the primary cause is, what technology available is, or what kind of society it is. (If there exists even one collapse of any society anywhere at any time that cannot be shown to fit this pattern, then the generalization is invalid.)

    From the above, and assuming nobody can think of a counter-example, I will propose one of the laws of Asimov's concept of Psychohistory: No matter what the details, the stability of a culture is inversely proportional to the RMS of the standard deviation of ability across all fields of endeavor with respect to all other fields of endeavor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @07:46PM (#32106168)

    To be fair, of all the groups you mention, Muslims are the only group to routinely resort to violence and murder in response to criticism; Slashdot probably doesn't want to draw that kind of scrutiny. Violence can be a very effective deterrent to free speech.

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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