Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Dinosaurs in Literature, Art & History--A Copán Pterosaur?... Page 26
"Copán is the southern most of the ancient cities of the vast Mayan civilization that flourished in The Classic Period of 300 to 900 AD." There are literally hundreds and perhaps thousands of varieties of pterosaurs and/or pteranodons that existed or exist in the world.
We can't be sure exactly which of the many South American types this actually represents (if we're correct) but we don't believe as the Copan Sculpture Museum does, that this is in fact a "bird".
We believe it is a type of flying reptile believed by science to have been extinct for millions of years. As you know, science does not know exactly how any of the dinosaurs actually looked and this is true of the pterosauria as well.
Note that this specimen has a characteristic notch on his bill as did many long billed pterosauria. Some birds also have this notch, however including some pelicans. Pterosaurs are thought to have eaten fish as this specimen also appears to be enjoying. As usual, it's up to you to decide if the evidence convinces you or leaves you unconvinced....s8int.com
Copan Sculpture Museum January 9, 2004
"Carved from a single block of stone, this sculpture depicts the storm god Chaak in a particularly snake-like form, with upturned snout and sharp tooth. With a great bird rearing back, fish in mouth, to form the headdress, this figure can be identified as a particular version or aspect of Chaak dubbed GI (one), of the Palenque Triad Gods.
This god was especially important at the city of Palenque, where he was impersonated by kings on a number of monuments."
Mary Miller & Simon Martin, Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya, p. 74
Click and drag photo to resize.
"The first evidence of these reptiles came to light in 1971, when footprints were discovered in Mexico. These creatures had a wing span of 9 – 10 metres. Since then, bone fragments have been found in Jordan, Israel and Brazil.
Pterosaurs died out about 65 million years ago. ‘We rely on these fossils to help understand evolution, as there are no descendants,’ said Dr. Martill. Only 3 eggs have been discovered; 2 in China and one in Argentina".... Laura Bach. Source of: Loveridge 2003 Drawing is Simon Clabby's Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight Site
Maya God Chaak and Sacred Rain of Stone
... and stories about the people and places of the Mayan Riviera. ... Chaak is the Maya god of rain - one of the most beloved deities, and it is Chaak's rain of ...
Hidden behind the dense concrete jungle of Playa del Carmen, visitors can find a true natural gem – a spot to revel in the untouched glory of the Riviera Maya. Quiet pathways through lush green jungle; decorative caverns echoing millions of years of growth and formation; cool cenote waters, as crystal clear as the air we breathe; and the harmony of a fragile ecosystem inviting you to experience and explore. The ancient Maya revered this sacred spot and gave it a powerful name – Chaak Tun.
Chaak is the Maya god of rain - one of the most beloved deities, and it is Chaak’s rain of stone that delights visitors daily. My party and I chose to arrive in the early afternoon, for I was tipped off that the park is normally quite busy before 1 or 2 pm. Good advice! The whole place belonged entirely to us.
We were lead down the path to meet our guide, Shelly. As we approached, she motioned for us to carefully and quietly creep forward to join her. She had spotted a tiny green tree snake camouflaging itself in a bush, and so the precedent for our tour was set. Full of passionate knowledge of this particular ecosystem, Shelly gave us a detailed overview of our tour and what to expect. And, without further adieu, we put on our helmets and started down a wooden walkway that led into the mouth of a cave.
The passage was large and we could see light at the other end, so there were no fears of being lost in the dark. As we strolled casually through the cavern, Shelly filled our eager ears with interesting tidbits of natural, historical, and anthropological knowledge. With a flashlight, she pointed out all of her favorite parts of the cave. The walls and ceilings were covered with intricate formations of stalactites and stalagmites formed through millions of years of the rain of stone.
When rainwater collects depressions in the floor of the jungle, it filters through the porous limestone of the Yucatan picking up tiny particles that deposit in drips. Drip by drip; tiny particle by tiny particle, massive decorations of stone were made.
We snorkeled through the pristine waters held within the cenote and were amazed how the impressiveness of the formations continued – if not increased - below the surface of the water. More collections of monstrous stalagmites rising from the floor and clusters of stalactites hanging steadfast from the ceiling combined to form a labyrinth of natural awe. Memories to last a lifetime…
Chaak Tun is open daily from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, and the recommendation still stands for an afternoon visit if you wish to enjoy this special spot without the crowds. Drive west on Juarez through the ejido of Playa del Carmen onto the dirt road; a few kilometers and one security stop later, and you’re there! The tour is recommended, but don’t worry - you can spend as much time as you want enjoying the cavern and the snorkeling. When it comes to fully appreciating all the natural beauty of the Riviera Maya, a cenote is definitely a must. So, enjoy your visit to Chaak Tun, and be sure to mention that you saw it in Sac-Be!
Labels: Chaak - rain of stone
Labels: mayan ruins
Mayan Sacrifices - Blue Paint
Feeling blue? Not like a Maya sacrificial victim
By Will Dunham 49 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There was more than the obvious reason to feel blue for people offered in human sacrifice rituals by the ancient Maya to their rain god -- they were painted blue before being heaved into a watery sinkhole. And it wasn't just any blue. It was Maya blue -- a vivid, somewhat turquoise-colored pigment used for about a millennium by Mesoamerican peoples to decorate pottery, figurines and murals that has long mystified scientists.
But now anthropologists from Wheaton College inand the Field Museum in have discovered how the ancient Maya produced this pigment and the role it played in important rituals at a famous Maya site in .
"Maya blue has long been of interest to scholars, both archeologists and chemists," Gary Feinman, curator of anthropology at the Field Museum who worked on the study, said in a telephone interview.
"The interest in Maya blue stems from the fact that it is a very durable pigment -- more durable than most. It also stems from the fact it wasn't immediately obvious how it was made and what the key ingredients were."
The pigment resists age, acid, weathering, biodegradation and modern chemical solvents. Previous research had identified two ingredients as extract from the leaves of the indigo plant and an unusual white clay mineral called palygorskite.
These researchers did microscopic analysis on material found in a three-footed pottery bowl in the museum's collection dating from A.D. 1400 that had been used as an incense burner.
RAIN GOD CHAAK
A century ago, the bowl was dredged from the Sacred Cenote, a natural sinkhole well, at, a key urban center late in Maya history. They found that copal, a tree resin burned as incense, also was part of the Maya blue concoction.
And they concluded that the pigment was made by mixing the ingredients over low heat in rituals performed on the edge of the sinkhole. That was bad news for human sacrificial victims.
Feinman said that human sacrifice was part of rituals appealing to theChaak -- depicted on some Maya structures with a unique elongated, curled nose -- to deliver rain for crops such as corn.
During the rituals conducted on the edge of the cenote at Chichen Itza, Feinman said, the Maya seem to have produced the pigment and painted items like pottery that would be tossed into the water as offerings to the god.
And, he added, they also would paint people being offered as human sacrifices blue and heave them into the sinkhole. Feinman said about 120 sets of human remains have been dredged from the sinkhole, along with lots of ceremonial objects.
"Adult males may have had their hearts removed before they were dumped in," Feinman said.
Feinman said at the bottom of the cenote, a layer 14 feet
deep of blue goo has been found, likely composed of pigment that washed off sacrificial victims and objects.
"The Maya used indigo, copal incense and palygorskite for medicinal purposes," said anthropologist Dean Arnold of Wheaton College and the Field Museum, who also worked on the study.
"So, what we have here are three healing elements that were combined with fire during the ritual at the edge of the Sacred Cenote. The result created Maya blue, symbolic of the healing power of water in an agricultural community," Arnold said.
The findings were published in the journal Antiquity.
(Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Xavier Briand)
Mysteries of "Sacrificial" Maya Blue Pigment Solved?
for National Geographic News
An ancient clay bowl from Mexico is providing new clues to the production and role of a hardy blue pigment widely employed by the ancient Maya.
The find also helps explain a mysteriously thick layer of blue silt that archaeologists reported at the bottom of a sacrificial sinkhole where the bowl was recovered more than a century ago.
The pigment, known commonly as Maya blue, was used to paint offerings, pottery, murals, and even the bodies of humans before ritual sacrifices. (Related: "Ancient Maya Used 'Glitter' Paint to Make Temple Gleam [February 7, 2008].)
Scientists have long known the basic chemical components of the pigment, which has a remarkable ability to resist age, acid, weathering, and even modern chemical solvents.
"Unlike a lot of natural pigments that may fade, [Maya blue] is very stable," said Gary Feinman, curator of Mesoamerican anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.
But the exact recipe, along with the tools the Maya used to create the pigment and the circumstances surrounding its use, were unknown.
The new research by Feinman and colleagues, which appears online today in the journal Antiquity, may answer some of these questions.
Lead study author Dean Arnold of Wheaton College in Illinois first came across the pottery bowl while searching through the Maya collection at the Field Museum.
He noticed that the bowl contained a wedge of preserved incense dotted with white flecks and a blue pigment.
The bowl had been discovered more than a century ago at the bottom of the Sacred Cenote, a large sacrificial sinkhole at the Maya site of Chichén Itzá, which was associated with the rain god Chaak.
More than a hundred humans were sacrificed to the deity at this site. (See an interactive map of key Maya sites.)
Analyses revealed the incense was made of a copal, a tree sap whose smoke the Maya believed nourished the gods.
The pigment was the famed Maya blue, and the flecks were bits of a white clay mineral called palygorskite.
According to previous studies, Maya blue is made by fusing palygorskite with pigments from the leaves of the indigo plant.
But the two ingredients do not readily combine, and it was unknown how the Maya fused them.
Archaeologists had suspected that copal was important to the production of Maya blue, and the new findings seem to confirm that theory.
"Our study suggests that heat and copal incense likely were key elements used to fuse the two components together," Feinman said.
Taken together, the bowl's history and its contents support the idea that Maya blue had great symbolic significance, study leader Arnold said.
Indigo, palygorskite, and copal—all associated with healing—were used individually as medicines by the ancient Maya.
"The offering of three healing elements thus fed Chaak and symbolically brought him into the ritual in the form a bright blue color that hopefully would bring rainfall and allow the corn to grow again," Arnold said.
The pigment's importance to the Maya is perhaps best illustrated by a 14-foot (4-meter) layer of blue silt that was discovered at the bottom of the Sacred Cenote when it was first excavated in 1904, the researchers say.
At the time archaeologists did not know what the blue material was, but the new findings strongly suggest it was Maya blue precipitate that had washed off of pottery and human bodies cast into the sinkhole.
Mary Miller, an art historian at Yale University in Connecticut who was not involved in the study, called the new findings "an exciting addition to the corpus of what is known about this stunning and tenacious pigment."
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Labels: Mayan Sacrifices- blue paint
Aztec Temple - Exceptional Find
Aztec Temple Found in Mexico City "Exceptional," Experts Say
Archaeologists working in the heart of Mexico City have discovered an altar and a monolith that date back more than 500 years to Aztec times.
The finds may be one of the most significant Aztec discoveries in years.
The altar depicts the Aztec rain god Tlaloc and was uncovered last weekend at the Aztec main temple, Templo Mayor, near mexico City's central Zocalo Square.
The 11-foot (3.5-meter) monolith, which is still mostly buried, is potentially the more important discovery. Some archaeologists speculate the stone slab could be part of an entrance to an underground chamber.
"This is a really impressive and exceptional Aztec monolith," said Leonardo López Luján, an archaeologist at the Museo del Templo Mayor.
The Aztec empire encompassed much of modern-day central Mexico. It reached its height about 500 years ago.
The Aztec were a deeply religious people who built monumental works. Templo Mayor, or the Great Temple, was the biggest pyramid of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan.
Spanish conquistadors destroyed the temple when they razed the city in 1521. Mexico City is built on top of the ruins of Tenochtitlan.
The temple was first excavated in 1978 after electricity workers found a giant carving of an Aztec goddess at the site. Remains of the lower portions of the temple complex, buried underneath the city, have since been unearthed.
A team of archaeologists led by Álvaro Barrera discovered the altar and monolith on the western side of the temple site.
The altar, which probably dates back to the kingdom of Motecuhzoma I (1440-1469), is made of stone and earth and covered with stucco. It has a frieze of the god Tlaloc and another figure depicting an agricultural deity.
Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility, was greatly feared among the Aztec, who drowned children to appease him.
(See a related National Geographic magazine feature on "Mexico's Pyramid of Death.")
"This is another fabulous discovery from the Great Temple precinct, and there are bound to be many more buried objects yet unearthed," said Susan Gillespie, an Aztec expert at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
"What is significant about this find is the early date of the altar frieze, evidenced by the cruder style of the bas-relief compared to the many late Aztec sculptures that have been recovered," she added.
"With such finds archaeologists can begin to more firmly trace the changes in state-sponsored religious practices at the Great Temple."
(Read related story: "Ancient Pyramid Found at Mexico City Christian Site" [April 2006].)
The giant monolith, meanwhile, is believed to be standing in its original position. The rectangular piece is still partly buried, and archaeologists can only see one of its sides.
López Luján estimates that the stone, which he says comes from the Chiquihuite stone formation north of Mexico City, could weigh as much as 12 tons (11 metric tons).
The monolith corresponds to the last phase of the Aztec empire, from 1487 to 1520.
"It is a typical monument of Aztec imperial style," López Luján said.
The upper face of the monolith has deep carvings.
"Taking into account its position, the form, and what I can see from a side, it should represent the Earth God (Tlaltecuhtli), the Earth Goddess (Tlaltecuhtli, Coatlicue), or a nocturnal deity such as Itzpaplotl of Coatlicue," López Luján said.
Some archaeologists speculate it could lead into an underground chamber.
"The importance of the monolith is what we are going to discover," Alberto Diaz, a member of the archeological team, told the Reuters news agency.
"It's likely that it is part of a chamber, of some offering. We won't know until we get close. First we have to get the stone out."
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Labels: Aztec Temple - exceptional
Human Sacrifice - Aztecs- Maya
Evidence May Back Human Sacrifice Claims
Mexican digs confirm grisly Spanish-era accounts
By Mark Stevenson, Associated Press
posted: 23 January 2005 06:40 pm ET
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- It has long been a matter of contention: Was the Aztec and Mayan practice of human sacrifice as widespread and horrifying as the history books say? Or did the Spanish conquerors overstate it to make the Indians look primitive? In recent years archaeologists have been uncovering mounting physical evidence that corroborates the Spanish accounts in substance, if not number.
Using high-tech forensic tools, archaeologists are proving that pre-Hispanic sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killing methods.
For decades, many researchers believed Spanish accounts from the 16th and 17th centuries were biased to denigrate Indian cultures, others argued that sacrifices were largely confined to captured warriors, while still others conceded the Aztecs were bloody, but believed the Maya were less so.
"We now have the physical evidence to corroborate the written and pictorial record,'' said archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan. He said, "some 'pro-Indian' currents had always denied this had happened. They said the texts must be lying.''
The Spaniards probably did exaggerate the sheer numbers of victims to justify a supposedly righteous war against idolatry, said David Carrasco, a Harvard Divinity School expert on Meso-American religion.
But there is no longer as much doubt about the nature of the killings. Indian pictorial texts known as "codices,'' as well as Spanish accounts from the time, quote Indians as describing multiple forms of human sacrifice.
Victims had their hearts cut out or were decapitated, shot full of arrows, clawed, sliced to death, stoned, crushed, skinned, buried alive or tossed from the tops of temples.
Children were said to be frequent victims, in part because they were considered pure and unspoiled.
"Many people said, 'We can't trust these codices because the Spaniards were describing all these horrible things,' which in the long run we are confirming,'' said Carmen Pijoan, a forensic anthropologist who found some of the first direct evidence of cannibalism in a pre-Aztec culture over a decade ago: bones with butcher-like cut marks.
In December, at an excavation in an Aztec-era community in Ecatepec, just north of Mexico City, archaeologist Nadia Velez Saldana described finding evidence of human sacrifice associated with the god of death.
"The sacrifice involved burning or partially burning victims,'' Velez Saldana said. "We found a burial pit with the skeletal remains of four children who were partially burned, and the remains of four other children that were completely carbonized.''
While the remains don't show whether the victims were burned alive, there are depictions of people -- apparently alive -- being held down as they were burned.
The dig turned up other clues to support descriptions of sacrifices in the Magliabecchi codex, a pictorial account painted between 1600 and 1650 that includes human body parts stuffed into cooking dishes, and people sitting around eating, as the god of death looks on.
"We have found cooking dishes just like that,'' said archaeologist Luis Manuel Gamboa. "And, next to some full skeletons, we found some incomplete, segmented human bones.'' However, researchers don't know whether those remains were cannibalized.
In 2002, government archaeologist Juan Alberto Roman Berrelleza announced the results of forensic testing on the bones of 42 children, mostly boys around age 6, sacrificed at Mexico City's Templo Mayor, the Aztec's main religious site, during a drought.
All shared one feature: serious cavities, abscesses or bone infections painful enough to make them cry.
"It was considered a good omen if they cried a lot at the time of sacrifice,'' which was probably done by slitting their throats, Roman Berrelleza said.
The Maya, whose culture peaked farther east about 400 years before the Aztecs founded Mexico City in 1325, had a similar taste for sacrifice, Harvard University anthropologist David Stuart wrote in a 2003 article.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, "The first researchers tried to make a distinction between the 'peaceful' Maya and the 'brutal' cultures of central Mexico,'' Stuart wrote. "They even tried to say human sacrifice was rare among the Maya.''
But in carvings and mural paintings, he said, "we have now found more and greater similarities between the Aztecs and Mayas,'' including a Maya ceremony in which a grotesquely costumed priest is shown pulling the entrails from a bound and apparently living sacrificial victim.
Some Spanish-era texts have yet to be corroborated with physical remains. They describe Aztec priests sacrificing children and adults by sealing them in caves or drowning them. But the assumption now is that the texts appear trustworthy, said Lopez Lujan, who also works at the Templo Mayor site.
For Lopez Lujan, confirmation has come in the form of advanced chemical tests on the stucco floors of Aztec temples, which were found to have been soaked with iron, albumen and genetic material consistent with human blood.
"It's now a question of quantity,'' said Lopez Lujan, who thinks the Spaniards -- and Indian picture-book scribes working under their control -- exaggerated the number of sacrifice victims, claiming in one case that 80,400 people were sacrificed at a temple inauguration in 1487.
"We're not finding anywhere near that ... even if we added some zeros,'' Lopez Lujan said.
Researchers have largely discarded the old theory that sacrifice and cannibalism were motivated by a protein shortage in the Aztec diet, though some still believe it may have been a method of population control.
Pre-Hispanic cultures believed the world would end if the sacrifices were not performed. Sacrificial victims, meanwhile, were often treated as gods themselves before being killed.
"It is really very difficult for us to conceive,'' Pijoan said of the sacrifices. "It was almost an honor for the victims to be sacrificed..Bird of Sacrifice
Photograph by Jesús Eduardo López Reyes
Sacred symbols of supernatural power, golden eagles shared the fate of a dozen men killed in a horrifying ritual likely witnessed by a crowd of thousands at the great urban center of Teotihuacan in about A.D. 300.
Scene of Bloody Murder
Photograph by Jesús Eduardo López Reyes
Traversing Teotihuacan's ceremonial center, the Street of the Dead ends at the Pyramid of the Moon, a platform for public rituals and sacrifices that repeats the shape of a distant mountain. Recent excavations deep inside the pyramid have revealed the remains of people and animals—all probably buried alive or beheaded to dedicate a series of expansions that began in about A.D. 200. This adds a new dimension to our understanding of such structures.
Labels: Human Sacrifice-Aztecs-Maya
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