A three year examination of astronomical alignments found in the buildings of Mesoamerican cities has demonstrated the basis of some pre-Columbian rituals.
Archaeologist Francisco Sánchez Nava, of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), together with archaeoastronomer Ivan Sprajc, from the Centre of Scientific Research of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, jointly developed the project “The Archaeo-astronomical Properties of Architecture and Urbanism in Mesoamerica”.
Through the research, archaeologists are trying to establish archaeo-astronomical patterns to see if these impacted in some way to distribution alignments and placement of pre-Colombian cities and the main structures within Mesoamerica. Read more.
They were humble farmers who grew corn and dwelt in subterranean pit houses. But the people who lived 1200 years ago in a Utah village known as Site 13, near Canyonlands National Park in Utah, seem to have had at least one indulgence: chocolate. Researchers report that half a dozen bowls excavated from the area contain traces of chocolate, the earliest known in North America. The finding implies that by the end of the 8th century C.E., cacao beans, which grow only in the tropics, were being imported to Utah from orchards thousands of kilometers away.
The discovery could force archaeologists to rethink the widely held view that the early people of the northern Southwest, who would go on to build enormous masonry “great houses” at New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon and create fine pottery, had little interaction with their neighbors in Mesoamerica. Other scientists are intrigued by the new claim, but also skeptical. Read more.
Once again, science and anthropology have teamed up to solve questions concerning the fascinating, brilliantly hued pigment known as Maya Blue. Impervious to the effects of chemical or physical weathering, the pigment was applied to pottery, sculpture, and murals in Mesoamerica largely during the Classic and Postclassic periods (AD 250-1520), playing a central role in ancient Maya religious practice. This unusual blue paint was used to coat the victims of human sacrifice and the altars on which they were dispatched.
For some time, scientists have known that Maya Blue is formed through the chemical combination of indigo and the clay mineral palygorskite. Only now, however, have researchers established a link between contemporary indigenous knowledge and ancient sources of the mineral.
In a paper published online in the Journal of Archaeological Science on March 16, 2012, researchers from Wheaton College, The Field Museum of Natural History, the United States Geological Survey, California State University of Long Beach, and the Smithsonian Institution, demonstrated that the palygorskite component in some of the Maya Blue samples came from mines in two locations in Mexico’s northern Yucatan Peninsula. Read more.
In time for the celebration of the Year of the Maya in 2012, the Global Heritage Fund (GHF), a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and development of archaeological sites in developing countries, has officially unveiled the long-awaited Archaeological Development Plan for the Mirador Cultural and Natural System. This system is an area in Guatemala that contains some of the world’s largest pyramids, including La Danta, the world’s largest pyramid by volume, and the large Pre-Classic Maya complex that is touted today by many archaeologists as the birthplace, or cradle, of Maya civilization in Mesoamerica.
Unveiled on December 8th at Guatemala’s National Palace of Culture before an audience of current and past government officials, diplomats, international agencies and foundations, partners, friends and others, the plan provides a framework for continuing archaeological research and preservation of the critical area over the next 15 years. Read more.
MEXICO CITY – Mexican archaeology has grown out of the country’s desire to uncover the cultural wealth of Mesoamerica, one of the world’s six great cradles of civilization, archaeologist Eduardo Matos said.
“In Mexico, we have an enormous archaeological tradition that dates back to the interest that existed in the pre-Columbian world to learn about earlier cultures,” the specialist, who has headed the Templo Mayor Project in this capital since 1978, said in an interview.
Commenting on his most recent book, “Arqueologia del Mexico antiguo” (Archaeology of Ancient Mexico), published in 2010 by INAH-CONACULTA, Matos said Mesoamerica was one of the world’s original cradles of civilization along with Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, the Indus Valley and the Andean zone. Read more.
More than 1,500 years before the Maya flourished in Central America, 25 centuries before the Aztecs conquered large swaths of Mexico, the mysterious Olmec people were building the first great culture of Mesoamerica. Starting in 1200 B.C. in the steamy jungles of Mexico’s southern Gulf Coast, the Olmec’s influence spread as far as modern Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica and El Salvador. They built large settlements, established elaborate trade routes and developed religious iconography and rituals, including ceremonial ball games, blood-letting and human sacrifice, that were adapted by all the Mesoamerican civilizations to follow. Read more.
Now overgrown by jungle, the ancient site was once the thriving capital of the Maya civilization
Had we been traveling overland, it would have taken two or three days to get from the end of the road at Carmelita to El Mirador: long hours of punishing heat and drenching rain, of mud and mosquitoes, and the possibility that the jungle novice in our party (that would be me, not the biologists turned photographers Christian Ziegler and Claudio Contreras) might step on a lethal fer-de-lance or do some witless city thing to provoke a jaguar or arouse the ire of the army ants inhabiting the last great swath of subtropical rain forest in Mesoamerica. Read more.