Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Teotihuacan, Mexico - Pyramid of Moon, Street of the Dead



Golden Eagle Sacrifice

Pyramid of Death

At the Pyramid of the Moon in central Mexico, humans and animals were buried alive. Excavations reveal the remains of sacrifices once witnessed by thousands of spectators.

By A. R. Williams
Photograph by Jesús Eduardo López Reyes

Even the ferocious Aztec were awed by their first glimpse of Teotihuacan. By the 13th century when the Aztec swept into central Mexico, the once teeming city—which reached its zenith around a.d. 400—had been long since abandoned by its mysterious builders. Its grand ceremonial center, where tens of thousands of people had gathered amid sacred monuments of stone, lay under thick green overgrowth. The Aztec gave the site its name and identified its most imposing features according to their own beliefs—the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. Assuming that some of the buildings were tombs, they called the main thoroughfare Street of the Dead.

They were, as it turns out, uncannily accurate. Burials both rich and gruesome have recently been discovered in the Pyramid of the Moon during excavations headed by Rubén Cabrera Castro, of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, and Saburo Sugiyama, of Japan’s Aichi Prefectural University. Tunneling deep into the 140-foot-tall stone structure, the archaeologists located five burial sites. After most of the dirt and debris had been dug out, each site was reinforced with steel beams for safety. Supplied with fresh air pumped in from the outside, the archaeologists scraped the last layers of earth from the floor to reveal scenes of carnage: disembodied heads and the remains of foreign warriors and dignitaries, carnivorous mammals, birds of prey, and deadly reptiles.

Evidence indicates that all the victims were ritually killed to consecrate successive stages of the pyramid’s construction (illustration below). The earliest sacrifice, from about a.d. 200, marked a substantial enlargement of the building. A wounded foreigner, most likely a prisoner of war, was apparently buried alive with his hands tied behind him (opposite). Animals representing mythical powers and military might surrounded him—pumas, a wolf, eagles, a falcon, an owl, and rattlesnakes—some buried alive in cages. Finely crafted offerings included weapons of obsidian and a figurine of solid greenstone, perhaps a war goddess to whom the burial was dedicated. Each subsequent burial was different, but all had the same aim: “Human sacrifice was important to control the people,” says Sugiyama, “to convince them to do what their rulers wanted.”

Teotihuacan was one of the first true urban centers in the Western Hemisphere, covering nearly eight square miles at its heyday. Precious artifacts recovered from the Pyramid of the Moon and other structures reveal that this was a wealthy trade metropolis with far-reaching connections. Inexplicably, the city suffered sudden and violent collapse in about a.d. 600 and much of the population fled. They left few written records, just the ruins of their city and intriguing clues about a once powerful culture.



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Did You Know?
In Did You Know? the National Geographic magazine team shares extra information we gathered to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects.

No, aliens did not design Teotihuacan, nor is it related to the lost city of Atlantis. Ever since the first aerial photographs of Teotihuacan were taken in the 1960s, the city's specific and precise layout has confounded scientists and scholars. The entire city is organized in a rigid grid system based on its central avenue, the Street of the Dead. This main street, however, is not oriented on a true north-south axis, but is offset by an exact 15.5º east of true north, a curiosity that has perplexed scholars and led to a variety of explanations throughout the years.

One of the more popular hypotheses suggests that the setting sun is at a 90º angle to the Street of the Dead on the days of the zenith (when the sun passes directly overhead). Some scholars, however, dismiss this hypothesis, stating that the math just doesn't add up. In the early 1970s, Colgate University astronomer and archaeologist Anthony Aveni suggested that a point 90º west of the Street of the Dead marked the setting position of the Pleiades, a star cluster linked to the Mesoamerican calendar, at about the time Teotihuacan was founded. However, Vincent Malmstrom, professor emeritus at Dartmouth College, argued a few years later that a point 90º west of the Street of the Dead marks the spot where, twice a year–on April 30 and August 13–the sun sets directly opposite the Pyramid of the Sun. Malmstrom believes this to be significant because the latter date is the day the ancient Maya believed the world began.

No conclusive explanation of why the founders of Teotihuacan oriented their city in such a specific way exists. Scientists and scholars are baffled and will, without a doubt, continue to look for clues to this one mystery among many that Teotihuacan holds.

—Agnieszka Siemiginowska


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Monday, September 21, 2009


acoma indian reservation, brief history

church of st. stephen (re-constructed)
church of san sebastian
mesa top
acoma seed pot. Seeds are saved in pot; pot is broken when seeds are needed for planting.
acoma water girls

mesa top

pueblo reflection in pool of water
enchanted mesa


Acoma Indian Reservation

The Acoma Indian Reservation is located in parts of Cibola, Socorro, and Catron counties, New Mexico, USA, and covers 1,541.033 km² (594.996 sq mi). The number of tribal members is about 6000. The reservation borders the Laguna Indian Reservation to the east and is near El Malpais National Monument due west. A total of 2,802 people were living on the reservation's lands, as reported in the 2000 census.

The Acoma Pueblo is the heart of the reservation and is held as the oldest continuously inhabited place in the United States.[1]



Acoma Houses on mesa top

The Pueblo (village) of Acoma was built on top of a 300 foot mesa in the state of New Mexico. The pueblo was built on top of the mesa for defensive purposes, keeping neighboring tribes from raiding food and other supplies. Archeologists have found evidence that the tribe had been in the area since 1200 A.D. Tribal legends and stories have placed its occupation to a time before Christ. The village continues to be occupied to the present day. The Acoma People came from the north and are believed to be related to the inhabitants of Mesa Verde (Colorado). The first recorded contact between Acoma and Europeans occurred on August 29, 1540. Capitan Hernando de Alvarado and Fry Juan Padilla along with an escort of soldiers arrived at the foot of the Acoma village. Capitan Hernando described Acoma as�The strongest ever seen, because the city was built on a high rock. The ascent was so difficult that we repented climbing to the top. The houses are three and four stories high. The people have of the same type as those in the province of Cibola (Zuni Pueblo), and they have abundant supplies of maize, beans, and turkeys, like those of New Spain�. Initial contact between both parties was peaceful, uneventful and remained this way for several years. Along with the arrival of the Spaniards came change for the pueblos of New Mexico. Spanish explorers had brought different beliefs and traditions with them. The Acoma people were introduced to Catholicism and were slowly forced to take the religion on as their only religion. The Acoma people were defiant to the beliefs and customs of the church. Incidents of fights and other skirmishes have been recorded by both the Acoma and Spanish people.

Mesa Top

The biggest confrontation between the Acoma people and the Spaniards started on December 4, 1598. Juan de Onate had started to move settlers into New Mexico. He was being followed by his brother Captain Juan de Zaldivar. Along with 30 men Zaldivar had camped near the Acoma village. An incident occurred in the Acoma village which led to a battle between the Acoma and Spaniards. Zaldivar and 12 of his men had been killed in the fighting.

Zaldivars brother Vicente de Zaldivar assembled a company of 70 men to punish the Acoma people for what they did. On January 21, 1599 Zaldivar attacked the village from the valley floor. The battle lasted for 3 days until the Spanish soldiers finally ascended the mesa and took control of the village.

Acoma men and women were taken prisoner and tried in court at the Pueblo of Santo Domingo. The Spanish court ruled that the Acoma people had been guilty of murdering Juan de Zaldivar and his men. The Acoma were dealt a sever sentence, men over 25 years of age were sentenced to have one foot amputated and were sentenced to serve 20 years of slavery. The women (12 to 25 years old) were also sentenced to serve 20 years of slavery. Children and elder tribal members were released, but had to live under the guidance of Spanish officials and Spanish priests.

The tribe remained under Spanish control for several years until the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. This was led by a medicine man named Pope of the San Juan Pueblo. 22 pueblos in the state of New Mexico organized a secret plan to take back the lands in which the Spaniards had settled on. The revolt began on August 11, 1680 and lasted for several days, tribes attacked settlements through out the southwest (state of New Mexico), most of the fighting took place in the city of Santa Fe. The Acoma and surrounding tribes from the county of Cibola forced settlers to move back into Mexico. The Pueblo People (of New Mexico) held the Spaniards off for 12 more years. The alliance of the tribes began to break up because of infighting. Slowly the Spanish government reclaimed the land (New Mexico) establishing permanent settlements in the early 1690�s.

Acoma Today

The Pueblo of Acoma and the people have gone through many adversities and continue to preserver. Today the Acoma Indian Reservation has grown to 365,000 archers. There are currently 6,104 tribal members in and out of the reservation. The Estaban del Ray Mission was designated a historical landmark by the U.S. Government. The pueblo is occupied by 13 families year round. The rest of the tribal members live in surrounding communities (Acomita, McCartys, Anzac and the Sky Line subdivision). The entire pueblo (old Acoma) is reoccupied several times out of the year annually to celebrate religious and feast day ceremonies. Acoma now has several businesses that provide income for the people. The Sky City Casino (the biggest business), Flower Mountain Travel Plaza (gas station), Acomita lake (closed), Bar 15 cattle co., Big Game Hunting, and the Acoma Tourist Visitors Center (the oldest business). The Tourist Center is changing it's name to the Sky City Cultural Center once a new building is constructed (the last building burned down in May of 2000). The Acoma tribe continues to adjust to the times and will endure whatever the future holds. Our heritage and traditions will continue to be passed down from generation to generation.

Home / Acoma Pottery / Acoma Artists / Artists Gallery / Forward Information / Compare Pottery / Sky City Cultural

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Acoma Sky City Pueblo and Haak'u Museum

This post is about a people located in the Southwestern part of the U.S.A., not mesoamerica. However, as some of the peoples of mesoamerica at times also inhabited the areas now known as Arizona and New Mexico, and are rumored to be related to the Zunie, this history is included here. Historically, the Acoma traded with the Aztec and Maya.

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Acoma Pueblo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Acoma Pueblo and its reflection in a pool of water. Ansel Adams, c.1941
Location: Cibola County, New Mexico, USA
Nearest city: Grants, New Mexico
Built/Founded: circa 1100
Architect: vernacular
Architectural style(s): Pueblo, Colonial
Governing body: Pueblo of Acoma
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966
Designated NHL: October 9, 1960[1]

Mission San Esteban Rey, c.1641. Photo by Ansel Adams, c.1941
More recent view of the same building: architectural modifications are apparent.
Acoma seed pot. Seeds were stored inside, and the pots broken as needed.

Acoma Pueblo (pronounced /ˈækəmə/; Western Keresan: Aa'ku; Zuni: Hakukya); Haak'ooh in Navajo, also known as "Sky City", is a Native American pueblo built on top of a 367-foot (112 m) sandstone mesa in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.

[edit] History

The pueblo, believed to have been established in the 12th century or earlier, was chosen in part because of its defensive position against raiders. It is regarded as one the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States,[3][4] along with Old Oraibi, Arizona, as both communities were settled in the 11th century.[5] Access to the pueblo is difficult as the faces of the mesa are sheer (a topographic map shows this best). Before modern times access was gained only by means of a hand-cut staircase carved into the sandstone.

There are several interpretations of origin of the name "Acoma". Some believe that the name Acoma comes from the Keresan words for the People of the White Rock, with aa'ku meaning white rock, and meh meaning people. Others believe that the word aa'ku actually comes from the word haaku meaning to prepare; a description that would accurately reflect the defensive position of the mesa's inhabitants.

Acoma Pueblo comprises several villages including Acomita, McCarty's, Anzac and the newer subdivision of Sky Line. Acoma people dry-farm in the valley below Aa'ku and use irrigation canals in the villages closer to the Rio San Jose.

In 1598, Spanish conquistador Don Juan De Oñate, under orders from the King of Spain, invaded New Mexico, and began staging raids on Native American pueblos in the area, taking anything of value. Upon reaching San Juan Pueblo, Oñate had all the Native Americans who were living there removed from their homes and used it as a base to stage more raids on other Native American pueblos in the area. In response, the Acoma fought back, and several Spaniards were killed in the battle to re-take the pueblo from the Spaniards. During the battle, the Spaniards brought a small cannon up the back of Acoma Mesa, and began firing into the village.

According to Acoma oral traditions, the average Spaniard at the time weighed much more than the average Acoma, and the Spaniards also brought with them attack dogs, which were believed to be fed on human flesh and trained to eat humans alive. The Acoma people lost the Battle of Acoma, and the indigionous population of the pueblo, which had been approximataly 2,000 people before the Spanish attacked, was reduced to approximately 250 survivors; as women, children, and elders were killed by the Spaniards in that battle as well.

After the survivors were herded to Santo Domingo Pueblo, all the surviving children under the age of 12 were taken from their parents, and given to Spanish missionaries to raise; but most of them and the other survivors were sold into slavery. Of the few dozen Acoma men of fighting age still alive after the battle. Oñate ordered a foot chopped off of each one. Oñate was later tried and convicted of cruelty to Indians and colonists, and was banished from New Mexico. However, he was cleared of all charges on appeal and lived out the rest of his life in Spain.

[edit] Culture

Tracing their lineage to the inhabitants of ruins to the west and north, the Acoma people continue the traditions of their ancestors. Acoma people practice their traditional religion and some also practice the Catholic religion that came with Spanish settlers in the 1500s. Acoma people have traded and interacted with their neighbors for centuries, some of which extended beyond the local Pueblos. Trade between Aztec and Mayan people was common prior to European settlement. Only more recently has trade and interaction with other tribes been hampered by international boundaries. Traditional alliances still exist between the Pueblos who often speak different dialects or different languages. The Acoma Pueblo and Laguna Pueblo have many ties, including location, language and a shared high school. Throughout the year feasts are held in celebration of historic occasions. Visitors are allowed to attend these feasts but are encouraged to be respectful and aware of local protocol.

The Spanish settlers had the mission church of San Esteban del Rey built at the pueblo from 1629 to 1641, under the direction of Friar Juan Ramírez.[6] Its 30-foot beams were carried 30 miles from Kaweshtima or Mount Taylor Mountain, and the dirt for its graveyard was carried up the mesa from the valley below. Both the mission and the pueblo are registered National Historical Landmarks. In late 2006 the Acoma Pueblo was also named as a National Trust Historic Site.

Like other pueblos, Acoma and the surrounding area are considered federal trust land, administered by the federal government for the pueblo. Several families still live on the mesa itself year-round, while others elect to live in nearby villages (Acomita Village, New Mexico, among them). The 2000 US Census lists 2,802 inhabitants of the Acoma Pueblo and off-reservation trust lands, which encompasses territory in parts of Cibola, Socorro, and Catron counties.

Today Acoma's culture is practiced almost the same as before the 1589 invasion. The traditions are always oral traditions, in which dancing, music, art, theology, astrology, philosophy and history are taught. The traditional foods that are planted there are beans, pumpkins, corn, chili, onions and fruits like apples, apricots, peaches, plums and cherries. All of the sowing is done as a group.

The pueblo is located 60 miles (100 km) west of Albuquerque on Interstate 40 and 12 miles (20 km) south on Indian Route 23. The pueblo is open to the public only by guided tour. Photography of the pueblo and surrounding lands is restricted. Tours can be arranged and $10 camera permits obtained from the recently renovated Sky City visitor center at the base of the mesa. However, videotaping, drawing and sketching are prohibited, with big signs warning visitors not to do any of them (but especially not to videotape)[7][8].

Haak'u Museum

Take a journey into Acoma’s past and present. The Haak’u Museum showcases the southwest Native American culture of the Acoma Pueblo Indians. Intriguing museum exhibits chronicle the history, highlight Native American artwork and explore traditional customs in modern Acoma life.

Located within the 40,000-square-foot Sky City Cultural Center the Haak’u Museum also serves as an education and research institute focusing on the preservation of Acoma history, the revitalization of lost art forms, and the retention of traditional language.


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