Showing posts with label Mayan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mayan. Show all posts

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sprawling Maya Network Discovered Under Guatemala Jungle


Hidden Maya Ruins in Guatemala

An international team of scientists together with archaeologist have come together to participate in the PCUNAMLidar– Light Detection and Ranging initiative, charting over 772 square miles of Guatemalan jungle by plane.

Their discoveries have been exposed in digital maps together with augmented reality app. They have come across over 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala in a huge archaeological discovery. In order to survey digitally below the forest shelter laser technology – Lidar, had been utilised which revealed houses, elevated highways, palaces together with defensive fortifications. Landscapes known in the vicinity of Maya cities is presumed to have been home to millions of the people besides other research earlier recommended.

The research had recorded over 810 square miles in northern Peten. Archaeologists are of the opinion that the cutting edge technology would bring about a change in the way the Maya civilisation would be seen by the world. Stephen Houston, Professor of Archaeology and anthropology at Brown University had commented that this is one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology. He informed BBC that after decades of work in the archaeological field, he had observed that the magnitude of the latest survey was breath-taking.

Lidar – Unveils Archaeological Treasures

He further added that it sounds hyperbolic though when he had seen the (Lidar) imagery; it brought tears to his eyes. The results from the research utilising Lidar technology, recommend that Central America sustained an advanced civilisation similar to the sophisticated cultures such as ancient Greece or China.

Ithaca College archaeologist Thomas Garrison had informed BBC that everything had been turned on its head. He was of the belief that the scale as well as the population density had been grossly underestimated and could be actually three or four times more than earlier presumed.

Lidar described as `magic’ by some of the archaeologist tends to unveil archaeological treasures which seem almost invisible to the naked eyes, particularly in the tropics.
  • It is said to be a sophisticated remote sensing technology which utilises laser light to sample the surface of the earth, densely
  • Millions of laser pulses are beamed every four seconds at the ground from a plane or helicopter
  • Wavelengths are measured as they tend to bounce back which is not different from how bats use sonar to hunt
  • The extremely precise measurements are then utilised in order to provide a detailed three dimensional image of the ground surface topography.

Digitally Eliminate Dense Tree Shelter

The team of scholars working on the project utilised Lidar to digitally eliminate the dense tree shelter in order to design a 3D map of what is actually beneath the surface of the now-uninhabited Guatemalan rainforest.

Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Tulane University archaeologist had informed National Geographic that `Lidar is revolutionising archaeology the same way the Hubble Space Telescope revolutionised astronomy and to comprehend what is seen, they would need 100 years to go through all the data.

Archaeologist had meticulouslyrecorded the landscape for years, excavating a Maya site known as El Zotz in northern Guatemala.However the Lidar survey had disclosed kilometres of fortification wall which the team never seemed to notice earlier.

Mr Garrison informed Live Science that probably, ultimately they would have got to this hilltop where this fortress seemed to be, though they were within about 150 feet of it in 2010 and did not observe anything. BBC was informed that while Lidar imagery had saved archaeologist years of on-the-ground searching, it also created a problem.

Recognized Structures – Stone Platforms

Mr Garrison, who is part of a consortium of archaeologist involved in the latest survey, explained that the complicating thing regarding the Lidar is that it gives an image of 3,000 years of Mayan civilisation in the area, in a compressed manner.He further added that though it is a great issue to have, it provides us with new challenges as they learn more about the Maya.

Recently Lidar technology has been utilised in revealing earlier hidden cities near the iconic ancient temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The civilisation of Maya had covered an area around twice the size of medieval England, at its peak around 1,500 years ago, having an estimated population of about five million.

Mr Estrada-Belli had informed that with this new data it was no longer difficult to think that there were 10 to 15 million people there inclusive of several living in low-lying , marshy areas which many had presumed to be uninhabitable.

Most of the 60,000 recently recognized structures are presumed to be of stone platforms which could have supported the average pole and thatch Maya home. The archaeologists were impressed by the incredible defensive features that had been comprised of walls, fortresses together with trenches. Garrison informed that they depicted the Maya had devoted more resources in defending themselves rather than presumed earlier.

Three Year Project – Guatemalan Organisation

One of the hidden discoveries is said to be a pyramid which had been covered in vegetation that tends to be almost lost in the jungle. New insight is being shed on Tikal which is deep in the Guatemalan rainforest.

By utilising Lidar, archaeologist identified an earlier unknown pyramid in the heart of the city which was presumed to be a natural feature. Moreover it was also discovered that the city was three to four times bigger than earlier presumed having extensive defences on its outskirts. The fortification backs the new theory which the ancient engaged in large scale wars, as per National Geographic.

Another surprising discovery which perplexed the archaeologist was the complex network of causeways connecting all the Maya cities in the vicinity. The elevated highways enabling easy passage even during the rainy season had been adequately wide to recommend that they were heavily trafficked and had been utilised for trade.

Mr Houston had stated that the idea of seeing a continuous landscape though understanding everything is linked across several square miles is amazing. He also added that they can expect several more surprises. The Lidar survey was considered to be the first part of a three year project directed by a Guatemalan organisation which tends to promote cultural heritage preservation.

It would ultimately record more than 5,000 sq. miles of the lowlands of Guatemala. The discoveries of the project would be featured in a Channel 4 programmed known as the Lost Cities of the Maya - revealed in airing in the UK on Sunday 11 February – 20.00GMT

Friday, March 3, 2017

Mysterious Jade Jewel Worn by Mayan king to Appease Wind God Found in Belize

Archaeologists have unveiled a new discovery that supports an ancient a myth. The discovery includes a jade pendant of ancient origin that used to be worn by a Maya King especially on their chest. This pendent was first discovered on the soil of Nim Li Punit and is hailed as the second largest jade of the Maya king and is supposedly a product of late 672 AD.

It is undoubtedly a remarkable piece of art and is designed in such a way that it resembles wind and breath and when the archaeologists were carrying on the expedition the pendent was found adjacent to a vessel that could have been the ancient Maya god of wind. This is a gem of a jewel which consists of inscriptions just like a historical text. An important story is described they’re with the help of almost 30 hieroglyphs.

This excavation was carried in 2015 by Geoffrey Braswell who is an UC San Diego archaeologist, and have recently published a paper depicting the importance of this jade pendent in the Ancient Mesoamerica journal.
The pendent is 7.4 inch wide, 4.1 inch in length and is .3 inch in terms of breath. The thickness was very surprising for the archaeologists.

Further research regarding this ancient jewel have unveiled the fact that the sculptors who made this must have just used a string, fat and dust of jade to develop such a piece of a gem. Another imperative fact is that the jewel is the only ancient discovery found till date that consists of 30 hieroglyphs which makes it to identify as a historical text where the name of the person who first owned is also inscribed at the back of the pendent.

Braswell who led to its discovery said that the inscription depicts a very small story with a larger than life message. The pendent was found when they were excavating a palace that was built about 400 years ago.

They discovered the jewel inside the palace along with 25 pottery vessels, a stone that was quite big in stature and resembled a deity, and amongst them the jade pendent was lying. There weren’t any remains of a human. The pendent resembled the letter T and the same alphabet was carved on the front. The archaeologists who were a part of this expedition proclaims that this ‘T’ is the personification of wind and breath.

Wind is denoted as a very vital natural resource in Maya culture, as these winds are responsible to attract monsoon rains which is important for the crops to thrive in. In their culture the king was the one who other than looking at the well being of its subjects was also responsible for all the sacred ceremonies, for that the king performed several functions as per their authentic calendar. The rituals also included many exaggerating ceremonies performed by the king, so that the wind and rain is properly restored in their kingdom.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Mysterious Carvings Found in a Maya Royal Tomb May Reveal Murky Secrets of the 'Snake Dynasty


Discovery of Hidden Royal Tomb – Ancient Maya Ruins

Archaeologists have discovered the hidden royal tomb in the ancient Maya ruins of Xunantunich in western Belize which reveals a new chapter in the story of the powerful Snake Dynasty.The tombs could be among the biggest to be located in Belize at the ruins of Xunantunich in the city on the Mopan River which had been a ceremonial centre, which was at its height during 600 – 890 AD.

In it were the remains of a mysterious male of the Xunantunich royal family between the age of 20 and 30 years. Research done on the remains indicated that he had been powerfully built and muscular and his body was placed on the floor of the tomb on his back with his head positioned towards the south.There were around 36 ceramic vessels placed besides the body, together with a necklace of jade beads stone blade and bones from jaguars and deer.

Moreover, the archaeologist also discovered three hieroglyphic panels towards the flanks of the central stairway which lead to the summit of the temple covering the tomb. The panels are said to be the part of a hieroglyphic stair which had earlier been erected at Caracol, around 26 miles south of Zunantunich.


Texts On Two Panels, Stimulating Epigraphers of Maya- America & Europe

An anthropologist at Northern Arizona University, Dr Jaime Awe leading the team who had made the discovery, stated that `the texts on the two panels now stimulating the epigraphers of Maya, across America and Europe. Maya Epigraphers contend that the Hieroglyphic Stair was custom-built by Caracol’s ruler Lord K’an II to record his defeat of the site of Naranjo.

A number of years later, in 680 AD, Naranjo defeats Caracol and as part of its revenge is believed to have dismantled the Hieroglyphic Stair and moved it to Naranjo where it was again resembled. But when the panels had been re-assembled at Naranjo in a jumbled order, some of the parts had been missing which did not reveal much. Some of the experts were of the belief that this had been done intentionally by the people of Naranjo to distort the history of their rivals.

Archaeologist discovered one of the missing panels at a site which was further up the river from Zunantunich known as Ucanal and another fragment had been located at Caracol.
Image: Jaime Awe

Dynasty Named – Snake Head Emblem Linked with Line of Rulers

However, Dr Awe informs that the panels that were found outside the tomb at Xunantunich were presumed to represent two more of the missing panels. He states that it could be a possibility that Zunantunich may have assisted as an ally of Naranjo in the event of defeat of Caracol and the panels seemed to represent war booty gifted to the site for this participation.

It meant that the individual they had located entombed with the panels could have played an important role in the victory over Caracol as a supporter of Naranjo. At that time, Naranjo had withdrawn its fealty to the disreputable Snake Dynasty that had its power centre in Calakmul. The dynasty is said to have earned its name due to the snake head emblem linked with its line of rulers.

Dr Awe mentioned that the individual were undoubtedly member of the ruling choice at Xunantunich. The size of the tomb together with its burial temple within the city centre with the associated grave goods and the other cultural materials related with the building strongly indicated that he could have been one of the rulers at the site.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Naachtun- A Lost City of the Maya


Ancient City of Naachtun – Heart of the Maya Region

Mayan civilization of Central America was very much advanced and flourishing during the period when Europe was yet in the dark ages. Some suggest that the climate changes could have been responsible for the collapse of the Mayas though several experts tend to disagree.

The Maya of the Classic period started around 250 AD and lived in the area in the Guatemala, Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, towards the western area of Honduras, Belize and El Salvador. The ancient city of Naachtun is located in the heart of the Maya region, a kilometre south of the Mexican border towards the far northern area of Guatemala.

This Naachtun city was rediscovered by the western archaeologist Sylvanus Morley of the Carnegie Institution Washington on May 3 in 1922 and is one of the most remote sites of Maya location. Morley had heard of the site from a chiclero, one who collects sap that is used in making chewing gum from chicle trees, by the name Alfonso Ovando.

 He was the first who saw the site in 1916. Morley together with Filipino photographers, Juan Sopena had spent around seven days at the site wherein they explored several of the standing buildings and discovered 19 of the Naachtun’s 40 plus stelae.

Calakmul/Tikal – Superpowers of Classic Maya World

The city has also been the subject of only a few fleeting visits for the past 80 years. Inspite of its current isolation, Naachtun seems to be very much in the thick of things during the Classic era where the site lie around 44 km south-south-east of Calakmul and 65 km north if Tikal. These are the two superpowers of the classic Maya world.

Located directly between these two powerful entities, Naachtun besides holding a strategic position was also vulnerable during the frequent wars of that time and control of the city had been seen as an essential prologue to any effort by Tikal or Calakmul to attack the other.

Morley had named the huge Maya city Naachtun due to the site’s dangerous unapproachability where naach means `far’ and tun means `stone’ in Mayan. Naachtun till date is one of the most remote sites in the Yucatan peninsula as well as one of the least known among all the major Classic Maya centres.

Next Western Visitor – Cyprus Lundell

Cyrus Lundell was the next western visitorto Naachtun, who had reached the site on January 5 and spent three days mapping and exploring it with Garcia, a chiclero guide. In the process he also discovered eight new stelae and though Morley and company had reached Naachtun form the south, Lundell had reached it form the north and had mistakenly presumed that he had found a new site of around 20 km north of the Mexico-Guatemala border.

 He had named the apparently new site as `Nohoxna’. Towards 1933, presuming that Lundell had found a new site, the Carnegie Institution of Washington had sent an expedition to southern Mexico to find and document the same with members comprising of Karl Ruppert, John H. Denison Jr. and JP O’Neill who spent 12 days in May 1933.

 They discovered several new stelae together with other new buildings. O’Neill completed the map of the site which is being utilised till date. When Ruppert, Denison and O’Neill returned from their field and had compared their photos with those of Morley’s earlier expedition, did they realise that Nohoxna and Naachtun were one and the same place.

Friday, November 30, 2012

History Mystery: Mayans Number System!

I think this is the right time to discuss about the Mayan calendar and hence this post for your views. Before going to discuss the Mayan mathematics and numbers it is very important to know how we came to know all about them.

Here is a small briefing: Diego de Landa a Spanish Franciscan aged 17 landed in Yucatan peninsula and helped the Mayan people to resist the invasion of Herman Cotes of Spain. Remember that the people of the Yacatan peninsula were the descendants of the ancient Mayan civilization which was declined after 900 AD. Landa tried his best to protect the people from the Spanish masters and he visited all the ruins of the great Mayan cities of ancient civilization and learnt their customs and their history. Since he is a Franciscan a stunt follower of Christianity he abhorred their religious practice and sentiments he ordered for the Mayan idols and books should be destroyed. Later he has regretted for his action and he did mention in his book “Relación de las cosas de Yucatán” In that book he describes the hieroglyphics , Mayan customs, their temples and temple practices etc. Few Mayan documents which survived after Landa’s destruction were Dresden codex, Madrid Codex and Paris Codex. In the all above the Dresden Codex is believed to be copied from the original documents of Seventh century AD and it is a treatise of Astronomy. Knowledge of Mayan civilization has been greatly increased in the recent years due to the modern technology such as aerial photography, satellite imaging and high resolution radar imaging etc. The Mayan people constructed temples, palaces, shrines, thatched houses, terraced buildings causeways and huge dams to store rain water and the rulers were the high priests and possessed high knowledge in astronomy field. The farming was carried over in the raised fields with the help of the irrigation system.

 They were the highly cultured and civilized people who used calendar for their routine and religious life. Since they are masters in astronomy and calendar it is evident that they are masters in Mathematics too. The Mayan followed a very refined number system. It is assured that their mathematical system was the very advanced one of those times. Mayan number system is based on twenty (it is worth remember we are following number system based on ten). Most of the scholars give the following reason for their d vigesimal (twenty) system. Ancient people used both of their fingers and toes for calculation hence it is. Though it is of base twenty it has only three symbols for representing a particular number amazing isn’t it? They had the number zero and it was represented by a shell. Though the number system looks like positional, it is not actually so.

 The Mayan number mentions the unit numbers from one to nineteen in the first place and in the second place twenties up to nineteen and in the third place it denotes the numbers up to 360’s instead of 400’s after that the system reverts to the multiples of twenties ( i.e. 202 , 203 204 so on…)

 Let us see one example:

Consider one Mayan numeral: [9; 8; 9; 13; 7]

It actually represents the following number : + 13 × 20 + 9 × 18 × 20 + 8 × 18 × 202 + 9 × 18 × 203 =1357107

The above example was derived using the Dresden Codex. Some of the historian argued that they have followed different systems for astronomy, calendar and merchandizing but there is no written evidence for that.

 Let us discuss about the Mayan Calendars, they followed two calendars namely ritual calendar and civil calendar. The ritual calendar was known as the Tzolkin based on 260 days and it contained thirteen months of twenty days each. Each month was named after their gods and the days were numbered from zero to nineteen. The Haab, namely civil calendar consisted of 365 days and it had eighteen months of twenty days each and the remaining last five days were mentioned as wayem. According to Landa’s “Relación de las cosas de Yucatán” this last five days were considered as unlucky period for them and during those days they won’t wash comb and not even do any hard work. A satisfactory reason for why they followed two calendars could not be found. The years coincide after every 18980 days in other ward after every 52 civil years or 73 ritual years. Mayan astronomers accurately calculated the movements of Venus. Apart from these calendars the Mayans measured the time in another way also. It was an absolute time scale based on the creation date. 12th August 331 BC is taken as creation day but some historians differ from this Long count. The long count based on 360 days in a year is nothing but the count of days in Mayan number system hence it is more accurate than the other two calendars. Most of the inscriptions available from the Mayan towns are in terms of long count only.

Let us see one example for this:

 This [8; 14; 3; 1; 12] date is mentioned in a Plate found from the town Tikal.

 Let us calculate the year of inscription. 12 + 1 × 20 + 3 × 18 × 20 + 14 × 18 × 202 + 8 × 18 × 203 = 1253912 That is it was made 1253912 days after the creation date of 12th August 3113 BC. Hence the plate was carved in the year 320 AD.

The Mayans astronomical measurements are outstanding and more accurate. They don’t have any instruments other than sticks. They made a cross like shape with the help of two sticks both tied together at 90 degrees and through this they observed celestial bodies and their movements. Many of the historians believe that The Caracol building at Chichen Itza to be a Mayan observatory. Many of the windows in Caracol follow certain rules with respect the movement of moon and Sun. With their crude instrument namely with sticks the Mayans accurately calculated the length of a year as 365.242 days. Our modern scientific world recorded the same as 365.242198 days. In the similar manner Mayan accurately calculated the lunar month as 29.5302 days and latest findings displays it as 29.53059 days.