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Drought-Induced Civil Conflict Among the Ancient Maya

Kennett, D.J. and Masson, M. and Peraza Lope, C. and Serafin, S. and George, R.J. and Spencer, T.C. and Hoggarth, J.A. and Culleton, B.J. and Harper, T.K. and Prufer, K.M. and Milbrath, S. and Russell, B.W. and González, E.U. and McCool, W.C. and Aquino, V.V. and Paris, E.H. and Curtis, J.H. and Marwan, N. and Zhang, M. and Asmerom, Y. and Polyak, V.J. and Carolin, S.A. and James, D.H. and Mason, A.J. and Henderson, G.M. and Brenner, M. and Baldini, J.U.L. and Breitenbach, S.F.M. and Hodell, D.A. (2022) 'Drought-Induced Civil Conflict Among the Ancient Maya.', Nature Communications, 13 . p. 3911.

Abstract

The influence of climate change on civil conflict and societal instability in the premodern world is a subject of much debate, in part because of the limited temporal or disciplinary scope of case studies. We present a transdisciplinary case study that combines archeological, historical, and paleoclimate datasets to explore the dynamic, shifting relationships among climate change, civil conflict, and political collapse at Mayapan, the largest Postclassic Maya capital of the Yucatán Peninsula in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries CE. Multiple data sources indicate that civil conflict increased significantly and generalized linear modeling correlates strife in the city with drought conditions between 1400 and 1450 cal. CE. We argue that prolonged drought escalated rival factional tensions, but subsequent adaptations reveal regional-scale resiliency, ensuring that Maya political and economic structures endured until European contact in the early sixteenth century CE.

Item Type:Article
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31522-x
Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Date accepted:21 June 2022
Date deposited:01 August 2022
Date of first online publication:19 July 2022
Date first made open access:01 August 2022

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