(LiveScience) The collapse of the ancient Mayan civilization may have been linked to relatively modest dry spells, researchers now say.
The ancient Mayan empire once stretched across an area about the size of Texas, with cities and fields occupying what is now southern Mexico and northern Central America, including the countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The height of the Mayan empire, known as the Classic period, reached from approximately A.D. 250 to at least A.D. 900.
The ancient Maya had what was arguably the most advanced civilization in the Americas. For instance, they made dramatic breakthroughs in astronomy that helped them very accurately predict where the moon and other planets would be in the sky centuries in the future. They also left behind many books and stone inscriptions regarding the stories of their gods and the history of their divine kings and queens.
For unknown reasons, the ancient Mayan civilization then disintegrated more than a millennium ago. The number of people declined catastrophically to a fraction of the empire's former size, and the ruins of its great cities are now largely overgrown by jungle.
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