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Climate impact on the development of pre-classic maya civilisation
Nooren, Kees ; Hoek, Wim Z. (coaut.) ; Dermody, Brian J. (coaut.) ; Galop, Didier (coaut.) ; Metcalfe, Sarah (coaut.) ; Islebe, Gerald A. (coaut.) ; Middelkoop, Hans (coaut.) ;
Contenido en: Climate of the Past Vol. 14 (August 2018), p. 1253-1273 ISSN: 1814-9324
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Resumen en inglés

The impact of climate change on the development and disintegration of Maya civilisation has long been debated. The lack of agreement among existing palaeoclimatic records from the region has prevented a detailed understanding of regional-scale climatic variability, its climatic forcing mechanisms and its impact on the ancient Maya. We present two new palaeo-precipitation records for the central Maya lowlands, spanning the Pre-Classic period (1800BCE–250CE), a key epoch in the development of Maya civilisation. A beach ridge elevation record from world's largest late Holocene beach ridge plain provides a regional picture, while Lake Tuspan's diatom record is indicative of precipitation changes at a local scale. We identify centennial-scale variability in palaeo-precipitation that significantly correlates with the North Atlantic δ14C atmospheric record, with a comparable periodicity of approximately 500 years, indicating an important role of North Atlantic atmospheric–oceanic forcing on precipitation in the central Maya lowlands. Our results show that the Early Pre-Classic period was characterised by relatively dry conditions, shifting to wetter conditions during the Middle Pre-Classic period, around the well-known 850BCE (2.8ka) event. We propose that this wet period may have been unfavourable for agricultural intensification in the central Maya lowlands, explaining the relatively delayed development of Maya civilisation in this area. A return to relatively drier conditions during the Late Pre-Classic period coincides with rapid agricultural intensification in the region and the establishment of major cities.