What caused the Mayan civilization to collapse?
Sjara Malsoa, Chicago
The Mayan civilization, centered on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, collapsed about 1,000 years ago and scientists believe it was caused by a massive drought that affected the area from A.D. 800 to 1000. Researchers studied gypsum from Lake Chichancanab on the Yucatan Peninsula. Water trapped in gypsum crystals that form at the bottoms of lakes during periods of extreme drought reveal the area experienced a 50 to 70% percent decrease in precipitation from 800 to 1000. “A climate change was potentially a driving force of the downfall,” said Nicholas Evans, a Cambridge University researcher and co-author of the study. “A lot of things that cause the disintegration of a civilization — lack of food, outbreaks of disease, environmental degeneration — can be a consequence of drought.”