Mayan 2012: Report Concludes Climate Change To Blame For End Of Civilization

By iScience Times Staff Reporter on November 8, 2012 5:03 PM EST

MayanCiv
Mayan civilization was crippled by climate change according to a new report published in Science, one of the world's best academic journals. (Photo: flickr.com / archer10 (Dennis))

A new report in Science, one of the most highly regarded academic journals in the world, concludes that Mayan civilzation was crippled by a severe drought. Mayan civilization has long been suspected to have endured a severe drought, and the latest report in Science backs those claims.

Here's an abstract of the article: "The role of climate change in the development and demise of Classic Maya civilization (300 to 1000 C.E.) remains controversial because of the absence of well-dated climate and archaeological sequences. We present a precisely dated subannual climate record for the past 2000 years from Yok Balum Cave, Belize. From comparison of this record with historical events compiled from well-dated stone monuments, we propose that anomalously high rainfall favored unprecedented population expansion and the proliferation of political centers between 440 and 660 C.E. This was followed by a drying trend between 660 and 1000 C.E. that triggered the balkanization of polities, increased warfare, and the asynchronous disintegration of polities, followed by population collapse in the context of an extended drought between 1020 and 1100 C.E."

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Research has previously indicated that Mayan civilization collapsed because of dramatic climate change. The new research supports that claim. Studies have varied including tree ring research and also marine research of the area that Mayan civilization existed on.

Douglas Kennett, a professor of anthropology at Penn State, said that the research was dependent on having good records of the climate. "We lucked into very good material to work with, to develop a very detailed climate record that is anchored chronologically in a way that other records haven't been able to," he said in an interview with Businessweek.

The climate change that occurred during collapse of Mayan civilization is much different than climate change that is currently occurring. Climate change is currently occurring because of an increase in greenhouse gases, which has led to global warming. During Mayan civilization, there were extended periods of dry weather. The dry weather eventually brought a drought, and the drought made resources scarcer. The climate change inevitably created wars over scarce resources.

The public has become fascinated by an "end date" that has been reported among ancient Mayan texts. Discovery News reports that a recent confirmation of the Mayan "end date" has been one of the most significant hieroglyphic finds in decades. It is the second known confirmation of a so called "end date" among ancient Mayan texts.

The "end date" referred to in both instances is Dec. 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar. Discovery News also reports that Mayans never predicted an apocalypse specifically. "Archaeologists studying this fascinating culture have been able to decipher their many calendars, but their longest period calendar -- the 'Long Count' -- is what set alarm bells off in the fertile minds of a few conspiracy theorists, doomsayers and guys looking to make a fast buck," writes Discover News contributor Ian O'Neill.

As Dec. 21, 2012 approaches, some may take solice in the fact that Mayan civilization was crippled by major droughts. Others won't.

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