The oldest ancient Maya ceremonial compound ever discovered in the Central American lowlands dates back 200 years before similar sites pop up elsewhere in the region, archaeologists announced today (April 25). The recently excavated plaza and pyramid would have likely served as a solar observatory for rituals.
The finding at a site called Ceibal suggests that the origins of the Maya civilization are more complex than first believed. Archaeologists hotly debate whether the Maya — famous for their complex calendar system that spurred apocalypse rumors last year — developed independently or whether they were largely inspired by an earlier culture known as the Olmec. The new research suggests the answer is neither. Read more.
The ancient Maya used a vivid, remarkably durable blue paint to cover their palace walls, codices, pottery and maybe even the bodies of human sacrifices who were thrown to their deaths down sacred wells. Now a group of chemists claim to have cracked the recipe of Maya Blue.
Scientists have long known the two chief ingredients of the intense blue pigment: indigo, a plant dye that’s used today to color denim; and palygorskite, a type of clay. But how the Maya cooked up the unfading paint remained a mystery. Now Spanish researchers report that they found traces of another pigment in Maya Blue, which they say gives clues about how the color was made. Read more.
Here’s one more reason to be glad those 2012 Maya doomsday worries didn’t pan out — Maya scholarship, thankfully, just kept on going.
An international archaeology team, for example, reports that a well-known Maya ruin site had its origins further back in time than anyone first supposed. Nestled in the hilly interior of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the ruin of Kiuic turns out to boast a pyramid of surprising antiquity, dating back to 700 B.C., as shown by carbon dating. Long seen as a transitional corridor between the ancient Maya cities of Central America and the later ones of the Yucatan coast, the hilly “Puuc” region that is home to Kiuic and other sites, instead, looks like a longtime home of the vanished culture. Read more.
A polychromatic stucco mural, referring to one of the oldest Mayan dynasties of the important city of Dzibanché, in Quintana Roo is one of the latest findings which reveals that it was inhabited well into the 13th century CE, and not the 11th century CE when it was believed the cities of the Lowlands were completely abandoned during the “Maya collapse“.
This important find comes after study was resumed by specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) after the death of archaeologist Enrique Nalda (1936-2010) who worked extensively on the ancient Maya city.
During his last season there he found human remains and a large number of offerings including a bone artifact carved with a scene of human sacrifice, greenstone jade along with obsidian artifacts. Read more.
With chatter about the Mayan apocalypse intensifying as Dec. 21 approaches, you may have seen that while the ancient Mayan calendar “ends” on that day, the Maya themselves would not have seen that as the end of the world. But how does the Mayan calendar work, anyway?
It’s not as confusing as it might seem. The ancient Maya kept time in a very different way than we do today, and their hieroglyph-heavy calendar can seem daunting at first glance. But the basic principle is simply that the Maya were counting the days.
"That’s somewhat different from our own calendar, which is really tied to the length of the solar year," said Walter Witschey, an archaeologist and Maya expert at Longwood University in Virginia. Read more.
London, August 3 (ANI): Archaeologists say they have found traces of 2,500-year-old chocolate on a plate in the Yucatan peninsula, the first time they have found ancient chocolate residue on a plate rather than a cup, suggesting it may have been used as a condiment or sauce with solid food.
The discovery announced this week by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History expands the envelope of how chocolate may have been used in ancient Mexico.
It would also suggest that there may be ancient roots for traditional dishes eaten in today’s Mexico, such as mole, the chocolate-based sauce often served with meats.
"This indicates that the pre-Hispanic Maya may have eaten foods with cacao sauce, similar to mole," the anthropology institute said.
The traces of chemical substances considered “markers” for chocolate were found on fragments of plates uncovered at the Paso del Macho archaeological site in Yucatan in 2001. Read more.
Recent excavations, sediment coring and mapping by a multi-university team led by the University of Cincinnati at the pre-Columbian city of Tikal, a paramount urban center of the ancient Maya, have identified new landscaping and engineering feats, including the largest ancient dam built by the Maya of Central America.
That dam – constructed from cut stone, rubble and earth – stretched more than 260 feet in length, stood about 33 feet high and held about 20 million gallons of water in a man-made reservoir.
These findings on ancient Maya water and land-use systems at Tikal, located in northern Guatemala, are scheduled to appear this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in an article titled “Water and Sustainable Land Use at the Ancient Tropical City of Tikal, Guatemala.” The research sheds new light on how the Maya conserved and used their natural resources to support a populous, highly complex society for over 1,500 years despite environmental challenges, including periodic drought. Read more.
Archaeologist William Saturno scrapes ancient debris from a scribe’s painting-filled, roughly 1,200-year-old home in Guatemala. Calculations on the walls refer to dates after December 21, 2012
Lighted by a photographer’s lamps, a painting of the likely scribe glows within the newfound chamber, found after one of Saturno’s undergraduate students had investigated a looters’ tunnel.
Four numbers, written in columns on the house’s north wall, are Maya “Long Count” dates—one of which was nearly 7,000 years in the future. Saturno’s research suggests that these dates likely recorded astronomical cycles, such as lunar eclipses or the movements of planets.
Three figures sit in a composite photograph of the interior. The black portrait (left) is one of three nearly identical seated men (two are not shown). At center is what’s thought to be the scribe, holding a paintbrush. At right is a Maya king, bedecked in blue feathers. Read more.