Friday, 16 November 2012

What really happened to the Mayans?

Many civilizations in history have had their ups and downs, but few that have vanished as suddenly and as thoroughly as the Mayan culture.

What went wrong?

The answer to this question may have tried many scientists. The latest research shows that a great culture, which flourished for centuries in many respects, destroyed climate change and social action, not a disaster, such as volcanic eruptions, storms or disease. Faced with terrible, long-lasting drought, the Mayans were simply picked up their belongings and moved.

Maya civilization reached its zenith between the 300th and 600 in AD. In this so called. classical period of Guatemala, through Belize to the Yucatan rises the 60-odd cities where there were between 60 and 70 thousand inhabitants. They built a shrine, playgrounds and complex systems, water storage, discussed philosophy, enjoy the first hot chocolate in the world and have developed a highly accurate astronomical calendar that some misinterpreted and concluded that predicts the end of the world in December 2012. Agriculture also flourished - the slopes of the hills are transformed into terraces that nourish all growing population.

But then came the decline that lasted more than two centuries. By the 1100th sometimes advanced cities become desolate. Why did the Mayans migrated and where did they go?

Complex reasons

When you are in the 19 century archaeologists began to excavate the ruins srednjoameričke first appeared in numerous theories about the causes of catastrophic failure May. However, new studies reveal that these reasons were numerous and complex - from war to drought and famine.

According to the latest research, presented in the new issue of the journal Science, climate change played a key role in this process, and the Maya themselves were partly responsible. Drought caused problems in agriculture and the instability that resulted in the war and the fall of the big cities. Following the political decline occurred is another great drought which prevented the recovery of civilization.

This theory is not new, some scientists are already some evidence substantiated. However, a new study researchers have so far the most accurate weather analysis and scale droughts recorded in the caves, and they tried to agree on the whole mosaic of stories about the collapse of the Maya.

An international team led by Kenneth Douglas, an anthropologist from Pennsylvania State University took samples of stalagmites in a cave York Baluma which was discovered near the ancient Mayan settlement. Stalagmites, which are formed by deposition of minerals in the water that drips from above, grow faster in more rainy years. Therefore, they are good indicators of climate conditions. One of the collected samples is so large and old that shows what were the weather changes in the past two centuries.

The study authors write that their analysis found that the early classical period of May was unusually wet, wetter than the previous thousand years. During this period, the 440th to 660, the population grew and cities have sprung up. All the important achievements of the Mayan civilization was in the 200-year Tinak. If stalagmites reveal that these two centuries was actually an anomaly. "Mayan systems were based on samples of time in which there was plenty of rain," said Kenneth, adding: "When they changed more samples could not be maintained."

Distrust and instability

Religious and political system based on the Mayan belief that the rulers directly communicate with the gods. When these communications are not created rain and harvest, have been developed tension. For example, in only 25 of 750 to 775th 39 warring rulers ordered the same number of stone monuments that bear witness to the conflicts, wars and strategic alliances. But circumstances have in time become even more difficult. From the 1020th the 1100th region swept longest drought in 2000. With her yields have fallen, and performed famine, pestilence, and emigration. Until the arrival of the conquistadors in the 16th Ages of May in the interior fell by 90 percent, and many cities were already abandoned.

Human impact on climate

Scientists believe that the Mayans themselves partly caused by climate change and drought. "The region lived tens of millions of people who build cities and farms at the expense of forests," said climatologist Benjamin I. Cook. His computer simulations have shown that deforestation interrupted the natural cycle of the flow of moisture from the soil into the atmosphere and reduce moisture locally catastrophic for five to 15 percent. When this is added the natural trend, it is clear that the situation was untenable. Cook warns us that something similar could happen today. 

Why did the Maya have recovered?

According to a survey in August in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a Billy Lee Turner Mayan civilization ceased to exist even after the fall of the city even after the arrival of the conquistadors. "In this area there are still Mayan people. Their culture and traditions have held, however, cities are not, "said Turner, who is considered to be one of the few historical examples of similar evictions so radical Cambodian city of Angkor Wat in the 15th century.

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