Water management and the demise of the Maya civilization
VIENNA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY—Something really drastic must have happened to the Ancient Maya at the end of the Classic Period in the 9th century. Within a short period of time, this advanced civilization in Central America went from flourishing to collapsing—the population dwindling rapidly and monumental stone structures, like the ones built at Yucatán, were no longer being constructed. The reason for this demise remains the subject of debate even today. Model calculations by TU Wien may have found the explanation: the irrigation technology that served the Mayans well during periods of drought may have actually made their society more vulnerable to major catastrophes.
The lessons learned may also help us to draw important conclusions for our own future. We need to be careful with our natural resources—if technical measures simply deal with the shortage of resources on a superficial level and we do not adjust our own behavior, society is left vulnerable. Read more.