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Monday, October 4, 2010

Next Network: Mayan Water Usage

In class, Tim made a passing remark about (as I remember it) the use of water collection systems in Classic Mayan city/states. Since this civilization is both collapsed and well-researched, I thought it would make an interesting area for attempting a network sketch.

In doing some surface digging, there seems to be a debate about the cause of the Mayan collapse; there are a significant number of people that consider drought to have been a major contributor. Thus, combining climatic change with water collection/storage and population statistics seem to be an interesting area for network investigation. At this point, my focus is going to be on information gathered from Peterson and Haug's "Climate and the Collapse of Maya Civilization" (American Scientist, Jul/Aug 2005), retrieved from the Penrose online search and retrieval system.

Obviously, this will have to be a grossly simplified network simulation. However, a few ideas come immediately to mind:

- Climate simulation will be limited to monthly rainfall amounts (although combining this with temperature - and its effect on water use - is tempting). The min/max range will be user selectable.
- Seasonal variations will be sinewave-based, with a larger "multiyear" variant that will simulate extended drought periods and the ability (or lack thereof) of storage systems to compensate. The period length and percentage of effect will be user selectable.
- A variable number of storage systems, along with their storage volumes, will be user input. The amount contained is to act as a buffering agent against drought and seasonal variation.
- The population will have an initial value (in thousand, I'm guessing), along with a variable water usage per-person. This is the hard-line tool for storage depletion.
- Population growth and shrinkage will be based on available water, where birth and death rates will vary based on the availability of water.

A super simplification of climate's effect on a population, but it may produce interesting results. I'm going to do this one in Max, because I think some of the variations will not only produce interesting artifacts (graphs, mostly), but these kinds of variation may provide results that could be used for sonification. Hopefully, I'll have something to post about the results tomorrow!


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