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Study: ollapse of ancient Mayan capital associated with drought

But new evidence shows in the century prior could have played a more substantial role in the city’s demise than once was known. The analysis authors note that is relevant today as humans grapple with another of increased climate change.

Marilyn Masson, an archaeologist and professor and chair of UAlbany’s Department of Anthropology, helped design and is really a co-author of the analysis, that was assisted by a global team of interdisciplinary researchers. They studied historical documents for records of violence and examined from that area and time frame for signs of traumatic injury.

Masson, who serves as principal investigator for the Proyecto Econmico de Mayapan, said she and the team found shallow mass graves and proof brutal massacre at monumental structures over the city.

“Some were organized with knives within their pelvis and rib cages, along with other skeletal remains were chopped up and burned,” she said. “Not merely did they smash and burn the bodies, however they also smashed and burned the effigies of these gods. It is a type of double desecration basically.”

But that has been hardly probably the most shocking discovery for the researchers.

That came when Douglas Kennett, the lead study author with the University of California Santa Barbara’s anthropology department, dated the skeletons using , a sophisticated type of radiocarbon dating technology, and found they dated some 50 to 100 years sooner than the city’s storied mid-15th century downfall.

“So then we started asking why? Because this can be a case where archaeology reveals something that isn’t told ever sold,” Masson said.

A lot of ethnohistorical records exist to aid the city’s violent downfall and abandonment around 1458, she said. However the new proof massacre around 100 years earlier, as well as climate data that found prolonged drought around that point, led the team to suspect environmental factors could have played a job.

Study: Collapse of Ancient Mayan Capital Linked to Drought
Ruins of the monumental center of Mayapan. Credit: Marilyn Masson

Paleoclimate scientists could actually calculate annual rainfall levels from that period utilizing a dating process that relied on calcite deposits in nearby caves, and found proof a drying trend through the entire 1300s. Specifically, researchers found a substantial relationship between an interval of drought and substantial population decline from 1350 to 1430.

The Maya depended heavily on rain-fed maize but lacked any centralized long-term grain storage. The impacts of rainfall levels on food production, then, are thought to be associated with , population decline, warfare and shifts in political power, the analysis states.

“It isn’t that droughts cause social conflict, however they create the conditions whereby violence may appear,” Masson said.

The analysis authors suggest the Xiu, who launched the best fatal attacks on the Cocom, used the droughts and ensuing famines to foment the unrest and rebellion that resulted in the mass deaths and outmigration from Mayapan in the 1300s.

“I believe the lesson is that hardship may become politicized in the worst sort of way,” Masson said. “It generates opportunities for ruthlessness and may cause visitors to turn on each other violently.”

Third , amount of drought and unrest, however, the town seems to have bounced back briefly by using healthy rainfall levels around 1400, the authors wrote.

“Mayapan could bend pretty far and bounce back prior to the droughts returned by the 1420s, nonetheless it was too early,” Masson said. “They didn’t have sufficient time and energy to recover, and the tensions were still there and the city’s government just couldn’t survive another bout like this. Nonetheless it almost did.”

As , social unrest and drought-driven migration in elements of the world continue being of great concern, Masson said you can find lessons in how other empires have handled environmental hardships.

The Aztec, for instance, survived the infamous “Famine of 1 Rabbit,” which have been fueled by way of a catastrophic drought in the entire year 1454. The emperor emptied out stores of food from the administrative centre to feed citizens so when that ran out, encouraged them to flee, Masson said. Many sold themselves into slavery on the Gulf Coast where conditions were better, but eventually bought their way to avoid it, returned to the administrative centre, and the empire was more powerful than ever.

This plan enacted by the Aztec imperial regime is probable what allowed because of their recovery, Masson said.

“Overall, we argue that human responses to drought on the Yucatan Peninsulawere complex,” the analysis concludes. “On the main one hand, drought stimulated and institutional failure at Mayapan. However, even with Mayapan fell, despite decentralization, intervals of mobility, temporary impacts to trade, and continuing military conflict, a resilient network of small Maya states persisted which were encountered by Europeans in the first 16th century. These complexities are essential as we try to measure the potential success or failure of modern state institutions made to maintain internal order and peace when confronted with future climate change.”



More info: Douglas J. Kennett et al, Drought-Induced Civil Conflict On the list of Ancient Maya, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-31522-x

Citation: Study: ollapse of ancient Mayan capital associated with drought (2022, August 20) retrieved 21 August 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-collapse-ancient-mayan-capital-linked.html

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