Researchers from the University of Amsterdam have demonstrated that the climate in South Mexico changed following the collapse of the Maya empire. From preserved pollen grains the paleoecologists could deduce that the climate quickly became dryer.
The climate becoming dryer, explains the decrease in the population following the collapse of the Maya empire. The climate researchers have therefore helped to solve an archaeological mystery.
With the help of pollen grains, the paleoecologists from Amsterdam could accurately reconstruct the climate in a certain region. Each plant will only grow under certain conditions. By working out the overlap between the possible growth conditions for each plant in an area, an accurate picture of the local climate can be constructed.
In the area inhabited by the Mayas, Southern Mexico and Northern Guatemala, the researchers found that round about 1000 AD the climate quickly became dryer. This was about 100 years after the collapse of the Maya empire. The researchers suspect that after the collapse of the well-organised empire, the inhabitants destroyed many wildlife and agricultural areas. This led to erosion, as a result of which the evaporation, and thus the rainfall, decreased.
Michel Philippens | alphagalileo
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