Belize's 'Blue Hole' can help crack the mystery of ancient Maya
Very little is known about the collapse of the ancient Mayan civilization but scientists are getting closer to figuring out what happened thanks to the Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is a massive sinkhole in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize. It's one of the top spots for scuba divers and now might help researchers from Rice University and Louisiana State University crack the mystery that ended the Mayans.
Samples taken from the underwater cavern suggest that a massive drought took down Maya. Scientists analyzed samples from the Blue Hole and a surrounding lagoon and determined that a drought took place between 800 and 900 AD - right around the time the civilization started to crumble.
Researchers say there was a second drought a hundred years or so later around the time when Mayan city Chichen Itza fell. The evidence of droughts puts to rest popular lore that the civilization simply vanished.
If you're totally clueless as to how the amazing Blue Hole actually helped researchers - here is how Live Science explains it. Researchers drilled into the lagoon walls around and in the Blue Hole. "During storms or wetter periods, excess water runs off from rivers and streams, overtops the retaining walls, and is deposited in a thin layer at the top of the lagoon. From there, all the sediments from these streams settle to the bottom of the lagoon, piling on top of each other and leaving a chronological record of the historical climate."
Now, this isn't the first bit of research that suggests a drought brought down the ancient people. Other theories include famine and war which some scientists believe could have been triggered by the drought,
"When you have major droughts, you start to get famines and unrest," the studies co-author Dr. Andre Droxler told Live Science.