Mayan civilization collapsed due to drought?

A massive drought that swept through what is now Mexico about 1,000 years ago caused the collapse of Mayan civilization, new research indicates. The concept of drought as one of the causes of the Maya collapse has been suggested before. Now scientists have presented further evidence to support this thesis.

What caused the collapse of one of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world? There are many hypotheses, które over the years have been cited by expertsów. Amongód they had already come up with the idea that the Maya had fallen through drought. Now scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Florida have added further evidence supporting this thesis.

In the publication, whichóra appeared on the pages of „Science”, scientists show how they were able to estimate the climatic conditions that prevailed at the end of the Maya civilizationów. They developed a method of measuring róthat isotopeóin the elementóin water trapped in the gypsum. Mineral, whichóry used for the study was extracted from Lake Chichancanab on PóThe Yucatan island, where numerous remnants of the Maya culture have been foundów. The gypsum was formed during the drought – researchers say.

Based on these measurementsów scientists found that the sum of annual precipitationóin the Pólion of the Yucatan island has fallen by 41-54 percent, the. During the period of the collapse of May civilizationsów. At the peak of the drought, annual rainfall was reduced by up to 70 percent., and relative humidity was lower by 2–7 proc. in poróIn the present day.

– The role of climate change in the collapse of civilizations Mayów is somewhat controversial, in part because earlier records are limited to qualitative reconstructions showing, for example, whether conditions were wetter or drier – said Nick Evans of the University of Cambridge, one of the authors of theóin publication. – Our research represents a significant advance, as it provides statistically reliable estimates of theów concerning the level ofów precipitationów and humidity during the period when the May civilizationów was leaning towards collapse – added.

History of Mayów is usually divided into four periods: preclassic, który have been going on since 2000.p.n.e to 250 r.n.e., The classic – lasting from 250.n.e by 800.n.e, the classical decline, którego timeframe is 800-1000 and postclassic, whichóry researchers date to the years 1000-1539.

Monumental buildings and stone monuments, of whichóhe known civilization of Mayów, were created during the classical period. This was when there was a rapid expansionój large city-states. However, at the end of this period, a mysterious event started the process, który ended with the collapse of an ancient civilization. The ruling families died out, and the city-states were gradually abandoned. And although the Maya peopleów survived, their political and economic dominance in the region was ended.

There are many hypotheses about what caused the collapse of the Maya civilizationów, and the subject has been debated in the scientific community for years. RóThe major concepts móties about invasions, war, environmental degradation and the collapse of the trailóin trade. In the 1990s. researchers have for the first time added another – drought. It was then that climate data was first collected during the collapse of Maya civilizationów and it has been discovered that these events are interrelated.

The first dowód on the correlation between the drought period and the collapse of the classical May civilizationów was provided by Professor David Hodell in a 1995 article published in. Hodell was also involved in a new study, in which heórych used a new method and estimated the extent of this drought.

Using a new geochemical method to measure the water locked in the gypsum from Chichancanab Lake, scientists have created a complete model of the conditions of theóin hydrology during the terminal Classic period, when the Maya civilizationów collapsed. The researchers analyzed the róThe article was published on the pages of theóin water trapped in the crystal structure of gypsum to determine changes in rainfall and relative humidity during the period of interest to them.

When gypsum is formed, water molecules are directly incorporated into its crystalline structure. This water recorded rótrong isotopes, whichóre were present in it during the formation of the Gypsum. – This is a very accurate method and can be poróknow with the study of water itself – acknowledged Evans.

During periods of drought, more water evaporates from lakes such as Chichancanab, and because lighter isotopes evaporate faster, the water becomes heavier. A greater proportion of heavier isotopesów, such as oxygen-18 and waterór-2 (deuterium), would therefore indicate a drought. By mapping the proportion of róof the isotopeóin contained in each layer of gypsum, the researchers were able to build a model of the changes in precipitationów and relative humidity during the collapse of the power of Mayów.

These climate data can also be used to assess howób These conditions may have affected agriculture, including crop yieldsóIn the basic crops grown by Mayóin, such as corn.

SourceóSource: University of Cambridge, The Independent, fot. CC BY-SA 3.0/ PhilippN/ Wikimedia Commons