New geologic mineral evidence shows that the great Mayan Empire likely perished from drought,suggest the findings of a new study that examined specimens from an underwater cave known as the Blue Hole that is located in the Caribbean Sea,just south of Mexico’s Riviera Maya off the coast of Belize.
“Researchers believe a shift in the region may have caused much-needed monsoons to miss the entire Yucatan peninsula altogether,” writes Business Insider of the new findings.
People worldwide have been fascinated by the vast and powerful ancient Mayan civilization for many years,but perhaps never more so than right now,with tourism in Cancun and the adjacent Riviera Maya region just to its south breaking new records every year. The reality is that the Maya people still exist in Mexico today,but sadly,the ancient and highly advanced civilization that began around 7,000 B.C. had largely collapsed by 900-1,000 A.D. and nobody knew for sure exactly why until now.
The Blue Hole is a massive and nearly perfectly symmetrical round cave on the ocean floor,and like a funnel it traps neatly settled layers of sediment to offer up a nicely organized record of the entire region’s geological and climatological past.
“Rock samples taken from the iconic cave and nearby lagoons suggest the region once dominated by the Mayans experienced a century-long drought from about 500 to 900 A.D.,” writes U.S. News & World Report. “The 100 years of drought happen to coincide with what historians believe was the downfall of the Mayan people.”
The ancient Maya ruled the land encompassing modern-day areas of the Yucatan,Campeche,Tabasco,Quintana Roo and Chiapas states in Mexico,as well as several other Latin American nations. The name “Mayan” came from the ancient capitol city of Mayapan,which was also located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. They were known for having a complex written language,a form of mathematics,an impressive array of pyramids,palaces and other architectural marvels,a detailed astrological calendar based on a 365-day year and an effective agricultural system.
Still,history has been clear for some time that this mighty civilization fell to quick and violent end,with anarchy taking over and most vestiges of civilized society vanishing. The cause of its demise was open to scholarly debate until the recent findings became public,supporting longtime theories that drought and subsequent famine caused the fabric of Mayan society to disintegrate with astonishing quickness.
According to LiveScience,the Blue Hole and a series of similar nearby lagoons are surrounded by coral,which during particularly rainy periods collects deposits of sediment from overflow that comes out of nearby streams and rivers. When research teams drilled into sediment deposits deep inside the Blue Hole,they discovered two significant droughts that coincided with two known periods of serious decline for the ancient Mayans.
“When you have major droughts,you start to get famies and unrest,” stated study co-author André Droxler in an interview with LiveScience. “The new results strengthen the case that dry periods were indeed the culprit,because the data came from several spots in a region central to the Mayan heartland.”