Climate confirmed as cause of Maya collapse

2012-11-09 09:35
Angelyn Bass cleans and stabilises the surface of a wall of a Maya house that dates to the ninth century AD in the Maya city Zultun in Guatemala. (Tyrone Turner, National Geographic, AP)

Angelyn Bass cleans and stabilises the surface of a wall of a Maya house that dates to the ninth century AD in the Maya city Zultun in Guatemala. (Tyrone Turner, National Geographic, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Climate Change
    Read more about the environmental changes and challenges the world faces. Now R261.00
    buy now
Washington - A long catastrophic drought led to the collapse of Maya culture, a new study said on Thursday, confirming a controversial hypothesis linking its demise to climate change.

The study, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, involved an international team of researchers.

"The rise and fall of Mayan civilisation is an example of a sophisticated civilisation failing to adapt successfully to climate change," said James Baldini of Britain's Durham University.

"Periods of high rainfall increased the productivity of Maya agricultural systems and led to a population boom and resource overexploitation."

The progressively drier climate that followed led to the depletion of resources, which in turn sparked political destabilisation and war, he noted in a statement.

Then, "after years of hardship, a nearly century-long drought from 1020 sealed the fate of the Classic Maya", Baldini added.

Mineral analyses


The researchers came to their conclusion after reconstructing a record of weather in the Maya region - which includes parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras - over the past 2 000 years.

They did so by using chemical and mineral analyses of stalagmite layers found in Belize's Yok Balum cave situated about 1.5km from the Classic Period Maya site of Uxbenka and near other major Maya centres that were impacted by the same climate conditions.

Stalagmites are formed in caves by the continuous dripping of calcareous water, which allows for the measurement of precipitation over time.

Considering the Maya kept a meticulous record of political events by inscribing them on stone monuments, the authors of the study were able to "chart how increases in war and unrest were associated with periods of drought", according to the statement.

The statement also said the role of climate change in the fall of the Maya civilisation had previously been suggested but considered controversial "due to dating uncertainties in previous climate records".
Read more on:    climate change  |  archaeology
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

• Cultivate your intuitive powers – intuition and insight are emphasized today. The focus is still on organisation and...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.