Revealed: Climate change led to decline of Maya civilisation – Science – News – The Independent
One of the world’s great civilisations was forced into terminal decline by successive dry periods culminating in a prolonged drought, according to a study that throws fresh light on the mysterious disappearance of the Maya in Central America around 1,100AD.
Scholars have long wondered about the circumstances that led to the relatively abrupt end of the Maya civilisation which had existed for about 2,000 years and grew to support a population of up to 13 million people at the height of its “classic” period.
Some of the theories about the collapse of Maya society included civil wars or famine brought on by environmental degradation, but the latest study suggests that the underlying reason may have been a lack of rain resulting from regional climate change.
Scientists who have analysed the chemical makeup of limestone columns or stalagmites that formed over 2,000 years on the floor of Yok Balum Cave in southern Belize said the region experienced periods of abundant rainfall and then prolonged drought, which correspond to the rise and fall of Maya society.