New analysis of sediment samples from the southern Caribbean indicate that severe droughts occurred at the same time as the known collapse of the Mayan civilization. In a study in the March 14 issue of the journal Science, researchers report that sediments from the Cariaco Basin in northern Venezuela clearly show a dry spell in the Caribbean region starting in the seventh century and lasting for more than 200 years.
Scientists have uncovered evidence of what is believed to be the earliest form of writing ever found in the New World. The discovery was based on glyphs carved on a cylindrical seal used to make imprints, and on greenstone plaque fragments found near La Venta in Tabasco, Mexico in the Gulf Coast region. The writings were produced during the Olmec era, a pre-Mayan civilization, and are estimated to date from 650 B.C.