Mayans Essay

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MAYA COLLAPSE THEORY 2: Climate Change and Drought Source: Climate Change Killed off the Maya Civilization, Study Says, by Stefan Lovgren for National Geographic News, March 13, 2003 (news.nationalgeographic.com) Around the year 800 AD, great Maya cities spread throughout the jungles of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and south into what is now Honduras and El Salvador. It is believed that15 million people lived and thrived in urban centers like Copan and Tikal. Then, in a period of only ten years, these cities were abandoned. Trees in the jungle covered the cities that were once home to thousands of people. Soon everyone began to forget the glory of the Mayas. According to a 2003 article published in Science, researchers believe that a significant climate change may have caused Mayans to leave their cities. Soil samples taken from a lake in the Yucatan Peninsula showed that a series of long droughts dried the Mayan lands and caused their crops to die. After studying soil samples, scientists could see that three long droughts occurred between 810 and 910 AD. The timing of these three droughts matched downturns in Mayan building and carving projects. It also coincided with the abandonment of many Mayan cities. Experts believe the Maya, were especially vulnerable to droughts, because 95% of their cities completely relied on lakes, ponds, and rivers for drinking water and farming. Although the Mayans made reservoirs (manmade lakes) to store water in many of their cities, it is believed that these reservoirs could have only held enough water to supply them for around 18 months. If scientists today are correct about there being three long droughts between 810 and 910 AD, it is doubtful that the Mayans would have been able to save enough water to farm or even drink within their cities. When looking for the cause of this drought, many scientists have looked

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