Scientists have determined the real reasons for the demise of the Maya civilization – it is believed that these clarifications will play an important role in future studies of Mesoamerican cultures.
The results from the research are published in Global and Planetary Change. A group of researchers focused on the political situation during the decline, and certain climate changes that could have influenced Mayans’ way of life.
Usually, the demise of the Maya civilization is explained by a period of drought which began in the early 9th century. The new research will allow us to expand our understanding of the great civilization’s decline.
Researches have established that even though droughts had destroyed the southern regions, people in the northern ones conserved the socio-political activities, and the overall level of cultural development remained sufficiently high. The droughts had negative effects on the northern parts, too, but in the early 10th century a cultural Renaissance among the Maya was evident.
At that time, the political and cultural center was the city of Chichén Itzá, located in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula.
But what is the exact reason for the demise of the civilization? Researchers say that the process of destabilization began even before the droughts. Everything began with small military conflicts. When droughts started to suffocate the lands, the conflicts between northern and southern regions became more frequent and people were fighting for the remaining resources. This led to distinct fragmentation of the civilization.
Mayans are to blame even for some of the natural disasters – they were clearing forests and drying the soil to make more room for grasslands and fields to feed the growing population. By the 11th century, some Mayans had already moved to the Caribbean coast to avoid hunger and droughts.
When in 1517 Spaniards arrived at the coast of Yucatan, the Maya civilization was already in deep decline. But Spanish conquistadors weren’t able to conquer the last Maya city until 1697.