Researchers have looked back in history and found that the great Maya Civilization might have been brought down by climate change. In the study, published in the Nature Communications journal, it has been proposed that prolonged drought was at the heart of the Maya collapse. Mayapan, the capital of culture and politics in the Yucatán Penisula, is believed to have been deserted when hunger and civil unrest overwhelmed the kingdom.

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The Maya people built some of the most astounding ancient structures that still exist today. However, according to researchers, the once thriving kingdom found itself struggling with civil wars when droughts and hunger lasted longer than normal. People then started retreating to smaller settlements to survive. The new study warns that such disasters loom over modern civilization if climate change is not stopped and we are not prepared.

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“Multiple data sources indicate that civil conflict increased significantly, and generalized linear modeling correlates strife in the city with drought conditions between 1400 and 1450 CE,” wrote the researchers in the paper.

The researchers had plenty of historical records to work with as well. Some other factors considered in the Mayapan collapse were diets and population change. They also found that human remains from within the ruins had signs of traumatic injuries, indicating civil strife.

To further the civil strife claim, in an analysis of one of the mass graves, it was found that most of the bodies belonged to those of high standing. Researchers believe that the deaths might have been caused by social unrest resulting from competing factions.

Lack of water and food also led to conflict in the capital. Researchers pointed out that water scarcity might have affected the agricultural and trade practices of the Mayapan people.

“Our transdisciplinary work highlights the importance of understanding the complex relationships between natural and social systems, especially when evaluating the role of climate change in exacerbating internal political tensions and factionalism in areas where drought leads to food insecurity,” researchers said.

Via Nature Communications

Lead image via Pixabay