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Study reveals evidence of historic climate change leading to conflict in Yucatan, Mexico

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Newswise — Scientists have discovered that a lengthy drought led to the collapse and abandonment of the prehistoric Mexican city of Mayapan, demonstrating evidence of a connection between climate change and civil unrest among the ancient Maya.

An extended period of turmoil in the Maya city of Mayapan between 1441-1461 was marked by population declines, political rivalries and civil conflict, which eventually led to the complete institutional collapse and abandonment of the city in the Yucatan region of Mexico.

This period occurred during a protracted regional drought, and a transdisciplinary international team of researchers including experts in the fields of archaeology, history, geography, and earth science present new evidence that this is not a coincidence.

Their research, which is published in Nature Communications suggests that drought may in fact have stoked the civil conflict that brought about violence, which in turn led to the institutional instabilities that precipitated Mayapan’s collapse.

Their innovative study examined palaeoenvironmental, archaeological and historical data from Mayapan, including isotope and microfossil records, radiocarbon data and DNA sequences from human remains. The team then used regional sources of climatic data and combined it with a new, local record of drought from cave deposits beneath the city to document an interval […]

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