The ancient Maya have recently been the subject of much media attention due to the impending completion of the current 5,125-year cycle of their infamous Long Count Calendar on December 21, 2012.
One of the reasons for the fascination surrounding the supposed future predictions of the Maya was that their civilization, once incredibly sophisticated, rapidly descended into bloody wars between neighboring city-states, depleted resources and eventually complete collapse. Anyone who has visited Mayan sites in Mexico and Central America knows that most of the cities are still engulfed in a fast-growing jungle; scientists are now speculating that the primary reason for the collapse of Mayan civilization may be climate change. Sindya N. Banoo reports for New York Times:
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The ancient Maya civilization may have risen — and then fallen — in response to climate change, scientists report after creating precise climate records going back 2,000 years.
The researchers, whose findings appear in the current issue of the journal Science, reconstructed rainfall patterns using cross-sections of stalagmites from a cave near the ancient city of Uxbenka, in what is now southern Belize.