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For instance, the archaeological site of Naranjo was the capital of the kingdom of Saal. Interestingly, despite constant warfare and eventual shifts in regional power, most kingdoms never disappeared from the political landscape until the collapse of the whole system in the 9th century AD. Mayanists have been increasingly accepting a "court paradigm" of Classic Maya societies which puts the emphasis on the centrality of the royal household and especially the person of the king.
This approach focuses on Maya monumental spaces as the embodiment of the diverse activities of the royal household. It considers the role of places and spaces including dwellings of royalty and nobles, throne rooms, temples, halls and plazas for public ceremonies in establishing power and social hierarchy, and also in projecting aesthetic and moral values to define the wider social realm. Spanish sources invariably describe even the largest Maya settlements as dispersed collections of dwellings grouped around the temples and palaces of the ruling dynasty and lesser nobles.
None of the Classic Maya cities shows evidence of economic specialization and commerce of the scale of Mexican Tenochtitlan. Instead, Maya cities could be seen as enormous royal households, the locales of the administrative and ritual activities of the royal court.
They were the places where privileged nobles could approach the holy ruler, where aesthetic values of the high culture were formulated and disseminated, where aesthetic items were consumed. They were the self-proclaimed centers and the sources of social, moral, and cosmic order.
The fall of a royal court as in the well-documented cases of Piedras Negras or Copan would cause the inevitable "death" of the associated settlement. We have only hints of the advanced painting of the classic Maya; mostly what have survived are funerary pottery and other Maya ceramics. Also a building at Bonampak holds ancient murals that survived by serendipity. Some murals have been discovered at Bonampak. With the decipherment of the Maya script it was discovered that the Maya were one of the few civilizations where artists attached their name to their work.
Maya architecture As unique and spectacular as Greek or Roman architecture, Maya architecture spans many thousands of years; yet, often the most dramatic and easily recognizable as Maya are the fantastic stepped pyramids from the Terminal Pre-classic period and beyond. There are also cave sites that are important to the Maya. There are also cave-origin myths among the Maya. Some cave sites are still used by the modern Maya in the Chiapas highlands.
It has been suggested that, in conjunction to the Maya Long Count Calendar, every fifty-two years, or cycle, temples and pyramids were remodeled and rebuilt. It appears now that the rebuilding process was often instigated by a new ruler or for political matters, as opposed to matching the calendar cycle.
However, the process of rebuilding on top of old structures is indeed a common one. Most notably, the North Acropolis at Tikal seems to be the sum total of 1, years of architectural modifications. Urban design As Maya cities spread throughout the varied geography of Mesoamerica, site planning appears to have been minimal.
Maya architecture tended to integrate a great degree of natural features, and their cities were built somewhat haphazardly as dictated by the topography of each independent location. However, some semblance of order, as required by any large city, still prevailed. Classic Era Maya urban design could easily be described as the division of space by great monuments and causeways.
Open public plazas were the gathering places for people and the focus of urban design, while interior space was entirely secondary. Only in the Late Post-Classic era did the great Maya cities develop into more fortress-like defensive structures that lacked, for the most part, the large and numerous plazas of the Classic.
At the onset of large-scale construction during the Classic Era, a predetermined axis was typically established in a cardinal direction. Depending on the location of natural resources such as fresh-water wells, or cenotes, the city grew by using sacbeob causewayssingular: As more structures were added and existing structures re-built or remodeled, the great Maya cities seemed to take on an almost random identity that contrasted sharply with other great Mesoamerican cities such as Teotihuacan and its rigid grid-like construction.
At the heart of the Maya city were large plazas surrounded by the most important governmental and religious buildings, such as the royal acropolis, great pyramid temples and occasionally ball-courts. Though city layouts evolved as nature dictated, careful attention was placed on the directional orientation of temples and observatories so that they were constructed in accordance with Maya interpretation of the orbits of the heavenly bodies.
Immediately outside of this ritual center were the structures of lesser nobles, smaller temples, and individual shrines; the less sacred and less important structures had a greater degree of privacy. Outside of the constantly evolving urban core were the less permanent and more modest homes of the common people.
Building materials A surprising aspect of the great Maya structures is their lack of many advanced technologies that would seem to be necessary for such constructions. Lacking metal tools, pulleys and maybe even the wheel, Maya architecture required one thing in abundance: Yet, beyond this enormous requirement, the remaining materials seem to have been readily available.
All stone for Maya structures appears to have been taken from local quarries. They most often utilized limestone, which remained pliable enough to be worked with stone tools while being quarried, and only hardened once removed from its bed. In addition to the structural use of limestone, much of their mortar consisted of crushed, burnt, and mixed limestone that mimicked the properties of cement and was used just as widely for stucco finishing as it was for mortar.
However, later improvements in quarrying techniques reduced the necessity for this limestone-stucco as their stones began to fit quite perfectly, yet it remained a crucial element in some post and lintel roofs.
In the case of the common Maya houses, wooden poles, adobe, and thatch were the primary materials; however, instances of what appear to be common houses of limestone have been discovered as well. Also notable throughout Maya architecture is the corbel arch also known as a "false arch"whose limitations kept their structures generally weighty rather than airy.
Notable constructions Ceremonial platforms were commonly limestone platforms of typically less than four meters in height where public ceremonies and religious rites were performed.
Constructed in the fashion of a typical foundation platform, these were often accented by carved figures, altars and perhaps tzompantli, a stake used to display the heads of victims or defeated Mesoamerican ballgame opponents. Palaces were large and often highly decorated, and usually sat close to the center of a city and housed the population's elite.
Any exceedingly large royal palace, or one consisting of many chambers on different levels might be referred to as an acropolis. However, often these were one-story and consisted of many small chambers and typically at least one interior courtyard; these structures appear to take into account the needed functionality required of a residence, as well as the decoration required for their inhabitants stature.
E-Groups are specific structural configurations present at a number of centers in the Maya area. These structures are usually accompanied by iconographic reliefs that tie astronomical observation into general Maya mythology. The structural complex is named for Group E at Uaxactun, the first documented in Mesoamerica.
Temple of the Cross at Palenque. Note the intricate roof comb and corbeled arch. Often the most important religious temples sat atop the towering Maya pyramids, presumably as the closest place to the heavens. While recent discoveries point toward the extensive use of pyramids as tombs, the temples themselves seem to rarely, if ever, contain burials. Residing atop the pyramids, some of over two-hundred feet, such as that at El Mirador, the temples were impressive and decorated structures themselves.
Commonly topped with a roof comb, or superficial grandiose wall, these temples might have served as a type of propaganda. As they were often the only structure in a Maya city to exceed the height of the surrounding jungle, the roof combs atop the temples were often carved with representations of rulers that could be seen from vast distances. The Maya were keen astronomers and had mapped out the phases of celestial objects, especially the Moon and Venus. Many temples have doorways and other features aligning to celestial events.
Round temples, often dedicated to Kukulcan, are perhaps those most often described as "observatories" by modern ruin tour-guides, but there is no evidence that they were so used exclusively, and temple pyramids of other shapes may well have been used for observation as well. As an integral aspect of the Mesoamerican lifestyle, the courts for their ritual ball-game were constructed throughout the Maya realm and often on a grand scale.
Enclosed on two sides by stepped ramps that led to ceremonial platforms or small temples, the ball court itself was of a capital "I" shape and could be found in all but the smallest of Maya cities.
Writing and literacy Writing system Main article: Maya script The Maya writing system often called hieroglyphs from a superficial resemblance to the Ancient Egyptian writing was a combination of phonetic symbols and logograms. It is most often classified as a logographic or more properly a logosyllabic writing system, in which syllabic signs play a significant role. It is the only writing system of the Pre-Columbian New World which is known to completely represent the spoken language of its community.
In total, the script has more than a thousand different glyphs, although a few are variations of the same sign or meaning, and many appear only rarely or are confined to particular localities. At any one time, no more than around glyphs were in use, some of which including variations had a phonetic or syllabic interpretation. The earliest inscriptions in an identifiably-Maya script date back to - BC. There is a pre-Mayan writing known as "Epi-Olmec script" post Olmec which some researchers believe may represent a transitional script between the Olmec writing and Maya writing, but since there are yet no clear examples of Olmec writing, the matter is unsettled.
On January 5,National Geographic published the findings of Maya writings that could be as old as BC , suggesting that the Maya writing system is nearly as old as the oldest Mesoamerican writing found so far, Zapotec. In the succeeding centuries the Maya developed their script into a form which was far more complete and complex than any other that has yet been found in the Americas. Since its inception, the Maya script was in use up to the arrival of the Europeans, peaking during the Maya Classical Period c.
Although many Maya centers went into decline or were completely abandoned during or after this period, the skill and knowledge of Maya writing persisted amongst segments of the population, and the early Spanish conquistadors knew of individuals who could still read and write the script. Unfortunately, the Spanish displayed little interest in it, and as a result of the dire impacts the conquest had on Maya societies, the knowledge was subsequently lost, probably within only a few generations.
At a rough estimate, around 10, individual texts have so far been recovered, mostly inscribed on stone monuments, lintels, stelae and ceramic pottery. Maya civilization also produced thousands of texts using paper called amatl manufactured from the processed bark of fig trees in a folded book-format, called a codex.
Shortly after the conquest, all of these latter which could be found were ordered to be burnt and destroyed by zealous Spanish priests, notably Bishop Diego de Landa. Out of these Maya codices, only three reasonably-intact examples are known to have survived through to the present day. These are now known as the Madrid, Dresden, and Paris codices.
A few pages survive from a fourth, the Grolier codex, whose authenticity is sometimes disputed, but mostly is held to be genuine. Further archaeology conducted at Mayan sites often reveals other fragments, rectangular lumps of plaster and paint chips which formerly were codices; these tantalizing remains are, however, too severely damaged for any inscriptions to have survived, most of the organic material having decayed.
The decipherment and recovery of the now-lost knowledge of Maya writing has been a long and laborious process. Some elements were first deciphered in the late 19th and early 20th century, mostly the parts having to do with numbers, the Maya calendar, and astronomy.
Major breakthroughs came starting in the s to s, and accelerated rapidly thereafter. By the end of the 20th century, scholars were able to read the majority of Maya texts to a large extent, and recent field work continues to further illuminate the content.
In reference to the few extant Maya writings, Michael D. Coe, a prominent linguist and epigrapher at Yale University stated: Coe, The Maya, London: Thames and Hudson, 4th ed.
Most surviving pre-Columbian Maya writing is from stelae and other stone inscriptions from Maya sites, many of which were already abandoned before the Spanish arrived. The inscriptions on the stelae mainly record the dynasties and wars of the sites' rulers.
Also of note are the inscriptions that reveal information about the lives of ancient Maya women. Much of the remainder of Maya hieroglyphics has been found on funeral pottery, most of which describes the afterlife. Writing tools Although the archaeological record does not provide examples, Maya art shows that writing was done with brushes made with animal hair and quills.
Codex-style writing was usually done in black ink with red highlights, giving rise to the Aztec name for the Maya territory as the "land of red and black". Scribes and Literacy Scribes held a prominent position in Maya courts. Maya art often depicts rulers with trappings indicating they were scribes or at least able to write, such as having pen bundles in their headdresses.
Additionally, many rulers have been found in conjunction with writing tools such as shell or clay inkpots. Although the number of logograms and syllabic symbols required to fully write the language numbered in the hundreds, literacy was not necessarily widespread beyond the elite classes. Graffiti uncovered in various contexts, including on fired bricks, shows nonsensical attempts to imitate the writing system.
Mathematics Mayan numeralsIn common with the other Mesoamerican civilizations, the Maya used a base 20 vigesimal and base 5 numbering system see Maya numerals. Also, the preclassic Maya and their neighbors independently developed the concept of zero by 36 BC. Inscriptions show them on occasion working with sums up to the hundreds of millions and dates so large it would take several lines just to represent it. They produced extremely accurate astronomical observations; their charts of the movements of the moon and planets are equal or superior to those of any other civilization working from naked eye observation.
Also in common with the other Mesoamerican civilizations, the Maya utilized a highly accurate measure of the length of the solar year, far more accurate than that used in Europe as the basis of the Gregorian Calendar. They did not use this figure for the length of year in their calendar, however. Instead, the Maya calendar s were based on a year length of exactly days, which means that the calendar falls out of step with the seasons by one day every four years.
By comparison, the Julian calendar, used in Europe from Roman times until about the 16th Century, accumulated an error of one day every years.
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The modern Gregorian calendar accumulates a day's error in approximately years. Astronomy Uniquely, there is some evidence to suggest the Maya appear to be the only pre-telescopic civilization to demonstrate knowledge of the Orion Nebula as being fuzzy, i. The information which supports this theory comes from a folk tale that deals with the Orion constellation's area of the sky.
Their traditional hearths include in their middle a smudge of glowing fire that corresponds with the Orion Nebula. This is a significant clue to support the idea that the Maya detected a diffuse area of the sky contrary to the pin points of stars before the telescope was invented. The Maya were very interested in zenial passages, the time when the sun passes directly overhead. The latitude of most of their cities being below the Tropic of Cancer, these zenial passages would occur twice a year equidistant from the solstice.
To represent this position of the sun overhead, the Maya had a god named Diving God. Examination and analysis of this codex reveals that Venus was the most important astronomical object to the Maya, even more important to them than the sun.
Maya religion Chaac, the god of Rain and thunderLike the Aztec and Inca who came to power later, the Maya believed in a cyclical nature of time.
The Maya shaman had the job of interpreting these cycles and giving a prophetic outlook on the future or past based on the number relations of all their calendars.
Much of the Maya religious tradition is still not understood by scholars, but it is known that the Maya, like most pre-modern societies, believed that the cosmos has three major planes, the underworld, the sky, and the earth.
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The Maya Underworld is reached through caves and ball courts. It was thought to be dominated by the aged Maya gods of death and putrefaction. The Sun and Itzamna, both aged gods, dominated the Maya idea of the sky. The night sky was considered a window showing all supernatural doings.
The Maya configured constellations of gods and places, saw the unfolding of narratives in their seasonal movements, and believed that the intersection of all possible worlds was in the night sky. Maya gods were not discrete, separate entities like Greek gods. The gods had affinities and aspects that caused them to merge with one another in ways that seem unbounded.
There is a massive array of supernatural characters in the Maya religious tradition, only some of which recur with regularity.10 LENGUAS INDÍGENAS CON MÁS HABLANTES EN MÉXICO
Good and evil traits are not permanent characteristics of Maya gods, nor is only "good" admirable. What is inappropriate during one season might come to pass in another since much of the Mayan religious tradition is based on cycles and not permanence.
The life-cycle of maize lies at the heart of Maya belief. This philosophy is demonstrated on the Maya belief in the Maize God as a central religious figure. The Maya bodily ideal is also based on the form of the young Maize God, which is demonstrated in their artwork.
The Maize God was also a model of courtly life for the Classical Maya. The Maya believed that the universe was flat and square, but infinite in area. They also worshiped the circle, which symbolized perfection or the balancing of forces. The story continues with what seems from the calendrical signs to be a long wait. There are now three elements. The first is a pyramid that sings, a unique representation in its type in Mesoamerica.
The second is the Apoala River but now with its waters beautifully red, yellow and blue; on the bank of the river two elements emerge - on the left the glyph of a mountain and on the right the glyph of an incipient sun. The third element is a corral of stones. The story continues with the birth of the sun, on a pyramid that now contains its songs, to let the new sun shine in all its splendour, represented by the glyph 1-flower. However, when it reaches the zenith, it is represented as a powerful warrior, who throws powerful rays like arrows.
The new sun has been born, through a sacred ceremony involving the hero of the Mixtecs, 9-Wind, which brought the sacred mushrooms that were consumed in total by eight deities of the highest rank. The story concludes with the element of duality of light and darkness, or night and day, which is characteristic of the worldview of the Mesoamerican world.
The element of day and night appears first on a mountain, then on a plain, and finally, in an element full of profound symbolism, on a path. The Codex Yuta Tnoho or Vindobonensis Mexicanus I is a pictographic document of Mixtec origin, and although it is not possible to determine precisely the date and place of its elaboration, based on its techniques of preparation and content, it is considered to date from the beginning of the 16th century, and its origin is definitely deemed pre-Hispanic.
The Codex is a long screen of tanned deer hide, treated with layers of stucco such that it can be drawn on. It has 52 sheets that are approximately 22 cm wide by 26 long, painted on both sides.
It is the most extensive pre-Hispanic document of the Mixtec culture. By according to some historians or according to others, the Codex had already arrived in Europe, which implies that it was seized and sent by the conquistadors shortly following the conquest Jansen, After arriving in Spain, probably with Seville as the entry point, the Codex went through the hands of at least 12 different owners, in 5 countries, including popes, kings, cardinals, dukes and collectors, until after a history full of vicissitudes, including inheritance, wars, gifts and diplomacy, it was finally deposited in what is now the Austrian National Library in Vienna Jansen et al.
Based in Adelhofer ; Furst ; Jansen and Jansen et al. With regard to its destination after its arrival in Spain there are two hypotheses: Barely a year after his father's death, on August 10,the cardinal died as well.
It then passed into the hands of his secretary, the German humanist and philologist Johann Albrecht Windmanstetter, who took it to Bavaria, the present republic of Germany. The Codex has had 20 different names, of which the most commonly used to date has been Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus I. However, it seems incongruous to give a Mexican codex of Mixtec origin a Latin name. The reverse side of the Codex was the last to be painted, with a pictorial tradition different from that of the obverse.
This toponymic hieroglyph is mentioned as the first site on the first page, folio 52, on the obverse. In the present work, it was possible to record two pieces of evidence of the use of entheogenic fungi among the Mixtecs at present.
Residents of the community of Santa Catarina Estetla mentioned that in San Antonio Huitepec, healers or shamans use mushrooms for divination or healing Santiago et al.
Felipe Neri Santiago, healer and inhabitant of the community of San Antonio Huitepec, once consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms or xi'i ndoto, which can translate as "fungus that awakens", to consult and solve a personal problem. Discussion The Mixtecs are the heirs of a rich history and culture that is reflected in various codices and archaeological monuments that have survived to date. Since pre-Hispanic times, the Mixtecs were settled in a vast territory that includes the northwest of the state of Oaxaca, the southern tip of the state of Puebla and a strip in the eastern state of Guerrero.
The word mixteca comes from Nahuatl, and its meaning is "inhabitants of the Mixtlan or the place of the clouds". The language belongs to the Otomangue language group, which also includes Zapotec, Otomi, Mazatec and Chinantec. The Mixtecs were great creators of codices, of which the following survived destruction by the conquistadors: Yuta Tnoho, Nutall and Selden. These codices present the Mixtec worldview and its dynastic history from the seventh to the sixteenth century Terrazas, In the Codex Yuta Tnoho, it is mentioned how the Mixtec lords performed rituals associated with corn, pulque and mushrooms that would lead to the dawn or first sunrise in the current era.
The obverse of the Codex Yuta Tnoho, painted with great precision and artistic mastery, is the only pre-Hispanic Mixtec story unmistakably related to the creation of the universe, the birth of its gods, its sacred plants and rituals, the first dawn and the order of the Mixtec world.
In contrast, the reverse is elaborated with much lower quality and narrates the genealogies and historical Mixtec characters from the year 7-Flint until the year 7-House, equivalent to the years to of our era Caso, The obverse can be divided into clear narrative sections.
A detailed description of these was provided by Furstwho distinguished the following parts: There is scant evidence on the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms by the Mixtec group.
Heim and Wasson and Ravicz mentioned the use of neurotropic fungi Psilocybe mexicana Heim in the Mixteca Alta region; however, these authors did not indicate the communities studied. The scarcity of current use of entheogenic mushroom species of the genus Psilocybe for sacred or divinatory purposes in the Mixtec group contrasts with: A factor that could have influenced the decrease in the use of sacred mushrooms could be the religious persecution to which pre-Hispanic practices were subjected upon the arrival of Christianity in the region.
There is a documented account of an inquisition, from towhere three Mixtec Indians converted to Christianity and testified about their ostentatious worship of the pre-Hispanic gods.
At present, the Mixtec group has scarcely been studied from the ethnomycological point of view. Conclusions The pictograms that appear in folios 24 and 25 of the Codex Yuta Tnoho constitute unequivocal evidence of the importance of entheogenic fungi in the Mesoamerican worldview prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. This evidence constitutes a unique piece of the cultural and ceremonial importance of said fungi in the Mixtec group.
The ceremonial use of fungi currently survives in groups that are geographically close to the Mixtecs, such as the Mixes, Mazatecs and Zapotecs. Acknowledgements The kind support from Professor Sir David Read from the University of Sheffield in England during a sabbatical year of the author of correspondence and his invaluable comments and permanent encouraging is acknowledged.
Austria, Akademische Druck und Verlagsanstalt. Memoria del Colegio Nacional. Late pleistocene human skeleton and mtDNA link paleoamericans and modern native americans. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, Oklahoma. La palabra y el hombre. Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus I: People using macro-fungal diversity in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine Huisi Tacu, estudio interpretativo de un libro mixteco antiguo: