Were the Mayans Done in By Drought?
For more than 500 years, the Maya kings ruled the New World’s richest and most advanced civilization. But then, around 800 C.E., the Maya empire began to collapse and its kings soon disappeared; by 1000 C.E., most of its great cities and temples lay in ruins. What happened? In recent years, scientists have increasingly blamed a series of droughts for the calamity, but the evidence has been ambiguous. A new study concludes that drought did indeed play an important role, but the actual decrease in rainfall was relatively modest.