Ancient Cities Offer Key Data About Surviving Climate Change: New Study Explains

Ancient Cities Offer Key Data About Surviving Climate Change: New Study Explains

Could an ancient city, like the Mesoamerican one, or Khmer, offer enough key details about future climate change?

A team of researchers believes that, and now, everything is explained in a new paper. Apparently, some ancient cities adapted to climate changed conditions in fantastic ways.

Here is what you need to know.

Ancient vs. Modern: How to Survive

The Mesoamerican and Khmer cities collapsed between 900-1500 CE, but the rural surroundings did not. How’s that possible?

A new study suggests that intentional adaptation to climate change could be the answer, offering us a valuable lesson nowadays.

Study insights

The new paper featuring significant data of ancient civilizations and climate change discusses how cities and their hinterlands have to build resilience to survive climate pressure.

For example, the Maya cities in Mesoamerica and Khmer ones in mainland Southeast Asia collapsed, matching some periods of extreme climate variability. But, as unfortunate as it could’ve been, the surroundings may have survived thanks to long-term investment in resilient landscapes. How great is that?

Daniel Penny is an associate professor at the University of Sydney School of Geosciences and the lead author. He explains:

“[the cities] created extensive landscapes of terraced and bunded (embanked to control water flow) agricultural fields that acted as massive sinks for water, sediment and nutrients.”

Practically, soil fertility and water resources saved people, helping them rebuild their communities in rural areas.

What can we learn from ancient cities?

The cases of urban collapses indicate that large-scale and long-term investment in landscape resilience, including improving soil fertility, water storage, and ensuring biodiversity, can help both rural and urban communities tolerate and survive climate stress.

Those historical cases might look like huge disasters, but we can learn from them, find better ways to face climate variability, and understand resilience and persistence. Scientists predict that the urban environment will collapse intensely in many parts of the world over the coming century.


Writing was, and still is, my first passion. I love games, mobile gadgets, and all that cool stuff about technology and science. I’ll try my best to bring you the best news every day.

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