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Humans are biocultural beings, meaning that we are very much a product of our biological and cultural heritage. A study of the night is a prime way to illustrate this point. The night is a special time of day when our bodies behave differently and we do different things than during daylight hours. Our perception of the night is partially conditioned by culture in terms of whether we regard the night as sacred or scary, or some combination of the two. The rotation of the Earth affects all species. As primates, we have a biological response to the night, such as enhanced hearing, decreased visual acuity, decreased body temperature, and hormonal fluctuations which help us to sleep. Most primates have similar chronobiology.
Much literature, whether on ancient or modern people, addresses “daily life”, but what about the nightly lives in the past and present? This discussion will tie together the section on archaeology to help to answer that question by focusing on one ancient culture: the ancestral Maya peoples who lived in the Lowlands of Mesoamerica during the Late Classic Period (AD 600-900).
For this discussion on the “Classic Maya Nights,” first, think about what ancient humans did during the night, long before the invention of electronic media to entertain us and before electricity was invented to brighten the dark. Think like an archaeologist and consider what types of evidence inform us about ancient nights. Only after you have considered this subject, then reflect upon why abundant modern light pollution is a hazard for all species.
Watch this TEDx talk onLife After Dark in the Ancient World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpawWr7ZmhM
Research the IDA website: Conduct research into modern nights: A) Explore the website of the International Dark Sky Association (IDA): https://www.darksky.org/ and B) Watch this video that IDA produced: Losing the Dark https://www.darksky.org/our-work/grassroots-advocacy/resources/losing-the-dark/
Answer the following questions with several paragraphs for your initial discussion post early in the online module.
Label your responses according to each of the numbered questions since it facilitates reading for everyone. Please do not repeat the questions in your own answers.
All work must be your own. Please cite sources for your information.
1. Classic Maya: Who were the Late Classic Maya, and when and where did they live?
2. Archaeological evidence: What is the archaeological evidence for Classic Maya nights? Discuss at least one type of evidence from each of the three sources (PowerPoint on “Urban Nightscapes of the Classic Maya”, TEDx Talk, textbook) that tell us about nocturnal life in the past.
3. Modern Light Pollution: Why is it important for us modern humans to be aware that dark nights are disappearing? What are the problems if we cannot see the stars and planets? What are the compelling reasons to preserve the darkness of the night? Answer these questions by first drawing on the information you learned from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), and then from your own experience. Make sure you cite your sources.
6. Action: How can you help preserve the darkness of modern nights? Discuss two steps that can you take to reduce your “nocturnal footprint.”
7. References: Cite all sources used for this discussion. Use the APA Citation Style.
8. Optional Image: Post a photo you have taken of the night.