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Scientists finally solved chilling mystery of why the Mayans vanished after thousands of years

Scientists finally solved chilling mystery of why the Mayans vanished after thousands of years

Self-made environmental issues took a turn for the worse.

Mayans have always been a topic of interest renowned for their hieroglyphic writing, agricultural achievements, as well as their ancient calendar that famously predicted an apocalypse back in 2012.

Around A.D. 250, the Maya entered an era in which they peaked in population size and built thriving cities with temples and palaces.

However, by the end of the period, around A.D. 900, almost all of the major cities civilised by Maya had been abandoned.

So, where did they go?

Tuul & Bruno Morandi / Getty
Tuul & Bruno Morandi / Getty

Well before, we get ahead of ourselves, the Mayans didn't completely vanish as they are still here to this day.

As Lisa Lucero, professor of anthropology and medieval studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explained: 'It was the Maya political system that collapsed, not [their] society.

'The over 7 million Maya living today in Central America and beyond attest to this fact.'

Previously, it was proposed by NASA that the fall of the Maya city-states occurred as a result of prolonged periods of drought.

'Less rainfall likely impacted canoe trade since water levels noticeably drop each dry season — so less rain meant less canoe travel,' Lucero added.

However, some Mayans survived this disaster.

Anton Petrus / Getty
Anton Petrus / Getty

In science author and historian Jared Diamond's book Collapse, he mentioned that the drought was just the tip of the iceberg.

The actual cause of the Mayan vanishing was a result of their own environmental mess up - perhaps an all-too-familiar issue given today's current climate?

The Mayans cut down hundreds to thousands of trees to build their monuments - 1 metre of material required 20 burned trees.

Computer simulations from the research found that this mass deforestation led to the land having a reduced ability to absorb solar radiation.

With less water able to evaporate, the temperature increased and there was 5-15 % less rain over the course of a century, pushing the civilisation to the brink.

In turn that would have resulted in failed crops and a lack of trade for wealth, and ultimately the Mayans would have been forced to abandon their lowlands home to find food.

This would have been exacerbated by social disturbances, wars, and disease, according to the researchers.

Nevertheless, the Mayan culture remains in the Mexican cities of Yucatan, Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Tabasco.

Featured Image Credit: Tuul & Bruno Morandi / Anton Petrus / Getty