Monday, August 20, 2007

WHO WERE/ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Along with my Spanish/German side, I am proud to say that my bloodline is also part Mayan.

After all, the Mayans are considered as the most supreme and advanced of all the pre-Hispanic civilizations. Encompassing present-day Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, the Maya built some of the most amazing cities and centers of learning ever known in the New World. The Aztecs and the Incas were definitely up there in terms of accomplishments, but the Maya surpassed them all.

Aside from their spectacular tightly constructed and architecturally-sound pyramids, the Maya were renowned for their knowledge in mathematics and astrology. The Arabs had invented the concept of zero in the Old World, but the Maya too had the very same number as well. They were well-versed in math, and their pyramids were built to precise scientific calculations that matched the alignment of the stars, the sun, and phases of the moon.

Unlike other Native Americans of their time, the Mayans had a writing system in the form of pictographs, which were similar to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Their artwork and sculptures are among the most valued of the ancient New World civilizations. Their calendar is so precise and accurate, that it can still be used today; that is pretty mind-blowing!


By the time the Spaniards arrived in the area in the 1500s, the Mayans had abandoned and disappeared from their cities. No one knows exactly why, or just what happened. Was there a massive disease, warring factions, or perhaps a premonition of the coming conquering white men from Europe? The Mayans did not die out, for their descendants are still around today, but their organized glory days were gone by the time the conquistadores from Spain arrived.

Much of their amazing art and other sacred texts were lost to the conservative and Catholic-obsessed Spanish invaders. One of these texts luckily escaped fiery destruction: the Popol Vuh, which is one of the few surviving gems on Mayan culture and religion as is the Chilam Balam. To this day, archaeologists are still trying to completely decipher their writing system.

One thing is certain though, the extraordinarily precise/accurate Mayan calendar ends in the year 2012. Why? Did the Maya foresee a great cataclysm befalling humanity? Many are predicting it as the end of times as we know it. Regardless, the Maya are still alive and well, and although greatly disadvantaged and mistreated by subsequent invading cultures and the Western way of life, they can forever be proud of their great achievements and contributions to world heritage.

I don't think Mel Gibson got it completely right in his movie, but it sure was a fascinating film to watch anyway.
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9 comments:

Todd said...

Those silly Christians, destroying so much art and knowledge around the world...

I don't know much about the Mayans, but what they did to poor Tratan in Rome is just a crime.

Glad you liked PERFUME for the most part. The trial scene is straight out of the book, which I was surprised they did. Isn't Ben Whishaw terribly cute!

CJ said...

I'll take that as a thumbs up and check out Mel's movie. I missed it at the theatre where I would have preferred to have seen it.

Nice blog!

Gary said...

I was in Mexico last month and visited Tulum which was an amazing site/sight. While we were there we also saw a reinactment of a traditional Mayan sacrifice.

Wonderful post.

M- Filer said...

After being disappointed by "The Last Temptation....", and then too with Mel's personal bigotry, apology or no, I have to say I wasn't inspired to see anything else by him. Maybe I'll make an exception in this case.

Scot said...

I love your little histories.

One little correction though: may want to change "astrology" to "astronomy." Although maybe I'm wrong, there may be Mayan horoscopes for Cancer through 2012...

I had a physics teacher in college who said "the most difficult majors one could chose are Astronony and Causology, which are not to be confused with Astrology and Cosmotology." I swear that's the only joke he cracked in 2 semesters.

M- Filer said...

sorry WAT, I was so powerful I just couldn't stop myself.....

"Hurricane Dean strengthened into a monstrous Category 5 storm Monday night as its first rain and winds began slamming the coasts of MEXICO & BELIZE. Thousands of tourists fled the beaches of the MAYAN RIVIERA as it roared toward the ancient ruins and modern oil installations of the Yucatan Peninsula."

alexgirl said...

My new hubs was just there! what a coinkydink.
That's pretty creepy about the calendar ending in 2012. I'll keep an eye out for apocalypse.

Junk Thief said...

Having spent a lot of time in Guatemala as well as visiting Monte Alban in Mexico and Copan in Honduras (and being gay and half Jewish to boot), I just can't bring myself to see that Mel Gibson movie. I'd rather see a Mayan movie about Australia instead.

laurenbove said...

my dh has Mayan in his blood. You can really see it in his profile. He's so schmexy.