A reduction in rainfall led to the collapse of the Mayan civilisation more than 1,100 years ago, a study has concluded.
Theories have blamed the collapse of the civilisation, centred on present-day Mexico and Guatemala, on social unrest, disease and extreme drought.
But a study, published in the journal Science, has calculated for the first time how much rain was lost. It discovered that a drop of 25 to 40 per cent was enough to destroy the sophisticated society that flourished for 600 years.
"The data suggest that the main cause was a decrease in summer storm activity," said Professor Eelco Rohling of the University of Southampton, which led the study with the Yucatan Centre for Scientific Research in Mexico.