Insights into Mayan civilization's collapse found in Belize's 'blue hole'

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Insights Into Mayan Civilization's Collapse Found In Belize's 'Blue Hole'


Researchers studying sediment in Belize's Blue Hole have found that the weather may actually have been what caused the collapse of the Mayan civilization.

Theories as to why a civilization as strong and advanced as the Mayan dissolved so rapidly are plentiful, and range from uprisings to alien invasions. Researchers studying sediment in Belize's Great Blue Hole have found that the weather may actually have been the culprit.

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Belize's ‘Blue Hole'
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Insights into Mayan civilization's collapse found in Belize's 'blue hole'
Aerial View to the famous diving site and natural phenomenon the Blue Hole in the Lighthouse Reef, East of the Turneffe Atoll in Caribbean Sea, Belize, Central America.
TODAY -- 'Today Goes to the Ends of the Earth' -- Air Date 11/17/2008 -- Pictured: NBC News' Matt Lauer (l) scuba diving in Belize as part of the 'Today Goes to the Ends of the Earth.' Lauer is examining how climate change is affecting the waters and wildlife off the coast of Belize including the Blue Hole and the Half Moon Caye. 'Today Goes to the Ends of the Earth' begins Monday, November 17, 2008 (Photo by Joel Parkey/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
AMBERGRIS CAYE, BELIZE - SEPTEMBER 29: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this aerial image, the great blue hole is seen on September 29, 2005 in Ambergris Caye, Belize. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Belize, Lighthouse atoll, Great Blue Hole, Aerial shot
Returning from the Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef, Belize.
Aerial view down to the famous diving site and natural phenomenon the Blue Hole in the Lighthouse Reef, East of the Turneffe Atoll in Caribbean Sea, Belize, Central America.
Blue Hole. Coral Reef. Caribbean. Sink Hole. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. Aerial Photo.
Belize, Caribbean, Blue Hole, dive boat wake
The deep sinkhole of Blue Hole Natural Monument in Lighthouse Reef.
Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef, Belize, Central America
The Great Blue Hole, Lighthouse Atoll, Belize
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Their findings give a boost to the probability that a drought was behind the demise, a theory that has been gaining popularity in recent years. The team, led by a Rice University professor, found that silt layers dated to around 800 AD show evidence of significantly diminished rainfall. A second dry period is believed to have commenced approximately 1,000 AD. That timeline coincides with significant events in the final centuries of the Mayan civilization. It's known that beginning in the year AD700 their building efforts slowed down, and they ultimately relocated from the central Yucatan peninsula to the northern areas.

By AD1100, however, their new home at Chichen Itza had fallen as well. The scientists believe that the reason behind the lengthy periods of drought was a change in weather patterns. A monsoon that swept through the area regularly changed course, depriving the region of a significant means of precipitation.

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