Century-Long Drought Was Mayans' Undoing
Civilization failed 'to adapt successfully to climate change': study
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Nov 9, 2012 8:18 AM CST
This photo taken on May 25, 2012 shows a jade piece in the tomb of a very early Mayan ruler.   (AP Photo/Tak'alik Ab'aj Archaeological Project)

(Newser) – The Mayan civilization collapsed at the hands of "a nearly century-long drought," says a UK-based researcher following a new study that the AFP reports has confirmed an existing climate-change theory. The Mayans' rise and fall "is an example of a sophisticated civilization failing to adapt successfully to climate change," says James Baldini. First, extensive rainfall prompted "a population boom and resource overexploitation," he explains. Then things got drier, and as resources grew scarce, political unrest developed.

Finally, "after years of hardship, a nearly century-long drought from 1020 sealed the fate of the Classic Maya," Baldini says. His team based its research on analysis of stalagmites in a Belize cave near a Mayan site. Since stalagmites are the result of dripping water, they can reveal precipitation records. Researchers compared the water-related findings to Mayan political records inscribed in stone. That allowed the scientists to "chart how increases in war and unrest were associated with periods of drought."

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Century-Long Drought Was Mayans' Undoing is...
9%
3%
78%
2%
7%
2%
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Comments
Showing 3 of 25 comments
nostereotypes
Nov 13, 2012 9:27 AM CST
They were able to draw all those conclusion from stalagmites. Ooooh aaah. No preconceived notions, just concrete interpretation of empirical evidence from STALAGMITES. Only if Al Gore had been there. He could have saved the Mayans.
historywatcher
Nov 9, 2012 4:25 PM CST
So: Night has her omen, its announcer. Sound alarums. Blow the shofar! For they are here; now they've arrived. For, who hither comes, but the avatars of that star, that apotheosizing light of old, that Olympian flame purveyor? Like steely-eyed conquistadors, they march with Quetzalcoatl as Cortez trod long before, in sight of Popocatepetl. Twilight and Dawn, with like heralds both, portend a new age of love and peace, and iniquity’s growth. “But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.”
RidersOnTheStorm
Nov 9, 2012 11:31 AM CST
The Warmistas and the Mayans have a lot in common. Warmistas conclusion that man-made CO2 (a minor greenhouse gas) is the culprit and zillions must be spent against it around the world, is about as spectacularly useless as the Mayans conclusion that ripping more beating hearts out of chests every morning would do the trick and save the world.