Scientists have found that part of the Mayan civilization has shrunk due to climate change. The study was carried out on the territory of modern Guatemala.
A study led by McGill University found that the Mayan population in the city of Itsan (in what is now Guatemala) has changed over time in response to climate change. Both droughts and floods led to significant population decline.
The new results are based on the use of a relatively new technique that studies stanols (organic molecules found in human and animal feces) taken from the bottom of a nearby lake. Measurements of stanols have been used to estimate changes in population size and to study how they relate to information on climate variability and changes in vegetation from other biological and archaeological sources.
Using this technique, the researchers mapped the major changes in the Mayan population in the area from 3300 BC.
The results of the study showed that the Maya population in the area declined due to drought in three different periods; between 90-280 A.D., between 730-900 A.D. and during the much less studied drought between 1350-950 BC. The researchers also found that the population declined during the very humid period from 400 to 210 BC, which has received little attention so far.