START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Did Climate Change Cause the Original Mayan Apocalypse?


Science & Tech  (tags: discovery, ancient, archaeology, environment, climate, research, science, scientists, society, study, world, interesting, investigation )

JL
- 582 days ago - blog.foreignpolicy.com
the world as they knew ended more than 1,000 years ago. A paper published in Science last month by Penn State Anthropologist Douglas Kennett and others suspects an earlier period of climate change may have been the reason:



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

Comments

JL A. (272)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 4:22 pm

Did climate change cause the original Mayan apocalypse?
Posted By Joshua Keating Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 6:52 PM Share

Despite what much of Russia seems to believe, the ancient Mayans most likely did not believe the world would end next week. But of course, the world as they knew ended more than 1,000 years ago. A paper published in Science last month by Penn State Anthropologist Douglas Kennett and others suspects an earlier period of climate change may have been the reason:

The role of climate change in the development and demise of Classic Maya civilization (300 to 1000 C.E.) remains controversial because of the absence of well-dated climate and archaeological sequences. We present a precisely dated subannual climate record for the past 2000 years from Yok Balum Cave, Belize. From comparison of this record with historical events compiled from well-dated stone monuments, we propose that anomalously high rainfall favored unprecedented population expansion and the proliferation of political centers between 440 and 660 C.E. This was followed by a drying trend between 660 and 1000 C.E. that triggered the balkanization of polities, increased warfare, and the asynchronous disintegration of polities, followed by population collapse in the context of an extended drought between 1020 and 1100 C.E.

Just how bad did things get during this long dry period?

Historical texts on stone monuments were dedicated in at least 39 centers from 750 to 775 C.E., with rulers commissioning monu-ments at several large centers at unprecedentedrates. These texts point to a dynamic and unstable geopolitical landscape centered on status rivalry, war, and strategic alliances (28). A precipitous drop in the number of texts at key centers (such as Tikal) between 775 and 800 C.E. was the precursor to a 50% drop in the number of centers with text-dated monuments between 800 and 825 C.E., which is evidence for widespread failure of these political systems. Increasing interpolity warfare (Fig. 2A) is most evident in the historical record between 780 and 800 C.E. Political power became decentralized as the institution of divine kingship collapsed between 780 and 900 C.E.

Another recent item on Smithsonian Magazine's site, suggests that an unusually warm and wet period in the early 1200 facilitated Genghis Khan's expansion across Eurasia.

We might like to think that our own institutions are a bit less vulnerable to the elements than these civilizations, but then again -- the climate we may be in for will likely be much more unusual.
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 7:56 pm

The Mayan like the Aztecs and even the Incas were not aware that deforestation would add to their own inability to continue to exist in the lands they inhabited. Those great monuments build of stone were at one time covered with plaster that plaster was created by melting limestone at high temperatures, from very hot fires. The same is true in Egyptian pyramids. Burn the trees for great fires and soon there are no more trees, the land has no ecological balance and droughts and floods ensue. Sound familiar?
 

JL A. (272)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 7:59 pm
Thanks for summarizing so clearly and concisely Kit! Should help more of us to more readily understand the implications. You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 8:03 pm

**were built** misspelling ** I should not be leaving comments this late, too many mistakes.
 

John B. (215)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 8:56 pm
Thanks J.L. for the interesting post. Sounds reasonable enough to me. Read and noted.
 

JL A. (272)
Sunday December 16, 2012, 9:03 pm
You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.
 

Kerrie G. (135)
Monday December 17, 2012, 7:05 pm
Noted, thanks.
 

JL A. (272)
Monday December 17, 2012, 7:14 pm
You are welcome Kerrie.
 

Freya H. (300)
Monday December 17, 2012, 7:16 pm
Now will we acknowledge that climate change is NATURAL and not human-caused, at least in the long run?
 

JL A. (272)
Monday December 17, 2012, 7:18 pm
No Freya because the speed of current climate change is due to man's activities and even the Mayan's impacted climate via the deforestation and burning that they did in this story Freya--it was man-made then, too, the evidence indicates.
 

LMj Sunshine (121)
Monday December 17, 2012, 8:01 pm
Very interesting, thank you.
 

JL A. (272)
Monday December 17, 2012, 8:14 pm
You are welcome LMj.
 

Suzanne L. (151)
Tuesday December 18, 2012, 9:28 am
Thanks JL A and Kit.
 

Debra B. (24)
Wednesday December 19, 2012, 9:23 am
Interesting
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday December 19, 2012, 11:37 am
You are welcome Suzanne. Glad you found it interesting Debra.
 

Dave C. (211)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 5:02 am
wonder about the potential changes to humanity today.....will be its own great extinction of life if we don't do something soon....
 

JL A. (272)
Thursday December 20, 2012, 8:50 am
You cannot currently send a star to Dave because you have done so within the last week.
 
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story


Loading Noted By...Please Wait

 

 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.