Known for its writing, architecture and astronomical system, the Maya civilization has always puzzled archaeologists as to the reason for its decline. However, a new study has finally shed light on this mystery.
During their recent study, scientists led by anthropologist Dr. Douglas Kennett from the University of California at Santa Barbara figured out the possible cause of the collapse of the Maya capital Mayapan, writes Express.
Archaeological and historical research has found a link between global climate change, social instability, violent conflicts and Maya socio-political collapse.
Mayapan was the political and cultural capital of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, which occupied the Yucatán peninsula between 1110 and 1450. Located about 40 km southeast of the modern capital of the Yucatán, Mérida, the ancient city is estimated to have once supported a population of 15,000-17,000.
During the study, the team examined historical documents for records of violence in the Yucatán, and also examined human remains found in Mayapan for signs of trauma. She then tried to find a link between these signs of conflict and indicators of drought conditions.
Thus, the experts found that a prolonged drought exacerbated tensions between rival groups, which eventually led the city into decline.
With the collapse of Mayapan, the inhabitants of the city migrated to other, smaller and more successful cities in the vicinity. It was this ability to adapt that ensured stability on a regional scale, which allowed the Mayan civilization to survive for at least another 150 years.
“As we can see, there are no coincidences here. In fact, it was the drought that provoked the civil conflict that gave rise to violence, which in turn led to social and economic instability that hastened the collapse of Mayapan,” the scientists concluded.
This study highlights the importance of understanding the complex relationships between natural and social systems, especially when assessing the role of climate change in exacerbating internal political tensions, where drought leads to food insecurity.