(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers found that two water tanks located in the central part of the city contain a high concentration of mercury. According to scientists, the population of the city very widely used cinnabar containing mercury. Its bright red color was used as paint or pigment to decorate buildings and various handicrafts.
But during heavy rains, the mercury was leached from the pigment and ended up in water tanks. Over the years, its concentration has increased to the limit, and water has become toxic. Beauty requires sacrifice.
“Color was important in the ancient Mayan world. They used it in their frescoes and burials, combined with iron oxide to get different shades, ”says anthropologist Kenneth Tankersley.
At the same time, scientists investigated other reservoirs in the vicinity of the city. The results of DNA analysis suggest that there were toxic algae – cyanobacteria. And therefore, this water was completely unfit for drinking. But at the same time, there were other reservoirs near the city in which the water was of normal quality and which, most likely, the population consumed in the 9th century. Scientists believe that the whole thing is possible in frequent droughts and, accordingly, related problems with finding water.
In general, researchers are still not able to completely answer the question of why the population left the densely populated city, in which there were many palaces and impressive architectural structures. But at the same time, the version with mercury-contaminated water can be an example of how an environmental disaster caused by people themselves led to total depopulation.
In the I – IX centuries AD e. Tikal was one of the most important centers of Mayan civilization. According to researchers, the population of the city at that time ranged from 100 to 200 thousand people. Now Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination.
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