It is always fascinating to study what exactly led to the collapse of previous civilizations and the cities they built and inhabited. Often we study what it is we can learn in order to maintain the civilizations we have built, but not our cities. A team of University of Cincinnati researchers have been looking at exactly that in the former Mayan city of Tikal. More from Next City:
When Lentz and a group of colleagues looked, they were able to piece together a picture of how Tikal survived as an urban center. For hundreds of years, they found, the Maya managed their resources sustainably. But that wasn’t enough to keep the city from collapsing in the face of climatic change; the changes Tikal’s residents made to the land may even have made them more vulnerable.
“They expanded to the carrying capacity of their landscape, leaving no resilience where something bad came along,” Lentz said. “When you make changes to your environment, sometimes things happens that you don’t expect. When the droughts came, because they had exploited the environment to the full extent of their technological capabilities, they just were not able to respond.”
The last monument went up around 869 A.D. By the end of the century, the city was likely largely abandoned.