Belize's 'Blue Hole' May Help Solve Mystery Of Maya Downfall

Scientists know all about the sophisticated calendars and writing system of the Maya, as well as their ritual sacrifices. But as for exactly what caused the the ancient civilization to collapse around 900 A.D., that's long been a bit of a mystery. Now a team of researchers from Rice University and Louisiana State University think they may be one step closer to cracking the mystery, thanks in part to evidence from the "Great Blue Hole." The massive sinkhole located in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize was made popular by pioneering conservationist Jacques Cousteau, who visited it in 1971 and declared it one of the world's best scuba diving sites. The researchers analyzed sediment samples from the Blue Hole, looking specifically at variations in color, grain size, and layer thickness. They also examined samples from the Belize Central Shelf Lagoon, a body of water attached to the mainland, noting differences in the samples' ratio of titanium to aluminum, which helps provide an estimate for rainfall levels. The analyses revealed low levels of precipitation and a drop in the frequency of tropical cyclones from 800 to 900 A.D. in the Yucatan peninsula--which suggests the region was hit by a major drought at the time, the researchers told The Huffington Post in an email. The research also suggested that another major drought hit the region between 1000 and 1100 A.D., around when the Maya city of Chichen Itza is believed to have fallen. "When you have major droughts, y...
Source: Science - The Huffington Post - Category: Science Source Type: news
More News: Belize Health | Science | Study