Paragraph 4: American archaeologist William Rathje developed a hypothesis that considered an explosion in long-distance exchange a fundamental cause of Mayan civilization in Mesoamerica. He suggested that the lowland Mayan environment was deficient in many vital resources, among them obsidian, salt, stone for grinding maize, and many luxury materials. All these could be obtained from the nearby highlands, from the Valley of Mexico, and from other regions, if the necessary trading networks came into being. Such connections, and the trading expeditions to maintain them, could not be organized by individual villages. The Maya lived in a relatively uniform environment, where every community suffered from the same resource deficiencies. Thus, argued Rathje, long-distance trade networks were organized through local ceremonial centers and their leaders. In time, this organization became a state, and knowledge of its functioning was exportable, as were pottery, tropical bird feathers, specialized stone materials, and other local commodities.