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The Ancient Mayans
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Unas
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:12 am    Post subject: The Ancient Mayans Reply with quote

Is anyone here interested (as I am) in the Ancient Mayan civilization? Surprisingly, I haven't been able to find any forum like this one for that subject.

The Mayans are pretty interesting people, and have a number of similarities to the ancient Egyptians, for instance:

Elaborate pyramids (although not always tombs)
A writing system
Complex social hierarchy
Books (some of which are illustrated in ways remarkably similar to Books of the Dead)

In some ways, they were more advanced than the Egyptians, for instance, their mathematics and astronomy were top-notch.

Like the Egyptians, the Mayans also recovered from at least one 'intermediate' period.

So, what do others think, or am I the only one with an interest? Laughing
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Unas
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh---and farming. I almost forgot. That's another similarity.
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Naunacht
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:06 pm    Post subject: Re: The Ancient Mayans Reply with quote

Unas wrote:
Is anyone here interested (as I am) in the Ancient Mayan civilization? Surprisingly, I haven't been able to find any forum like this one for that subject.

The Mayans are pretty interesting people, and have a number of similarities to the ancient Egyptians, for instance:

Elaborate pyramids (although not always tombs)
A writing system
Complex social hierarchy
Books (some of which are illustrated in ways remarkably similar to Books of the Dead)

In some ways, they were more advanced than the Egyptians, for instance, their mathematics and astronomy were top-notch.

Like the Egyptians, the Mayans also recovered from at least one 'intermediate' period.

So, what do others think, or am I the only one with an interest? Laughing


I've travelled to quite a few Mayan sites--mainly in the Yucatan and Chiapas Mexico. I agree--they're a fascinating culture. I haven't run across any forums of Maya enthusiasts like this one--It would be fun to join one though. It must be one of the fastest changing areas in archaeology thanks to the deceipherment of the Mayan glyphs.
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stephaniep
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Naunacht,

Yes it is a fascinating culture. I too have been to almost all of the ancient mayan sites and love going to them (the price is right too). Nothing beats being in a vast bio/ecological rainforest park such as where Tikal is situated, full of animals and birds such as parrots, toucans etc with the howler monkeys singing away sounding like nothing on earth.

I am struck over and over by the similarities to ancient Egypt. Even the Popul Vuh bears some relation to the AE creation myths with the creation mound etc. I love the fact that the scientific community studies the culture from a shamanistic/magic viewpoint. It is so much more enlightening.

I've thought about the lack of a forum too, but came to the conclusion that the difference is that the study is relatively new, the language has only been deciphered with the last 20-30 years and since the Olmecs have been firmly placed as the mother culture & the Mayans lost their luster as a peace loving time obsessed culture there have been really no disagreements within the archaelogical community. So in that context, what would there be on a forum?

I find I can get all the information I want from books and museum catalogs.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would love to hear more about the Mayas (and Incas for that matter).
You can use the general discussion area to post those threads.

If there are a handful if people posting that would be enough to get some interesting discussions going?
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anneke wrote:
I would love to hear more about the Mayas (and Incas for that matter).
You can use the general discussion area to post those threads.

If there are a handful if people posting that would be enough to get some interesting discussions going?


Well, there was the news about a new Tomb found in Peru, anyone more news on that? It was on a local news site, but no link to more information, alas

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stephaniep
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anneke wrote:
Quote:
I would love to hear more about the Mayas (and Incas for that matter).
You can use the general discussion area to post those threads.

If there are a handful if people posting that would be enough to get some interesting discussions going?


Might be fun. I don't know if people view Mesoamerican civilizations with the same fervor that they do about AE though. Mayan (and Olmec) artwork can be quite stunning.
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Unas
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great! It's so nice to hear from people who share an interest. Smile And indeed, the Inca's are equally interesting, although I know less about them (so much history, so little time!).

I've never been to the Mayan sites myself, but I'd be fascinated to hear from others who have.

stephaniep, your description of Tikal sounds so amazing, with the wildlife noises going on around you. You mention the Popul Vuh--I've been thinking about buying a copy, but there seems to be many different versions/translations...I'm wondering if any particular version is better than another?

The tropical environment of the Mayans certainly poses a challenge to the archeologists. Think of Egypt, where sites in the south are much better preserved due to the drier climate, where's the closer you get to the Delta, the faster things deteriorate. In the case of the Mayas, the jungle environment swallows things up pretty fast, despite the fact that the Mayan sites are much younger than those of Egypt.

Another area that intrigues me are the early Spanish encounters with the Mayans...apparently these first confrontations happened much more slowly and sporadically then those of the Incas and Aztecs. I'm trying to learn as much as I can, but there are a lot of books out there on the subject and it's hard to know which will be the most useful...wait a minute...haven't I gone through this before? (Oh yeah, when I looked up "ancient egypt" on amazon... Laughing)

More later...
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stephaniep wrote:
Hi Naunacht,

Yes it is a fascinating culture. I too have been to almost all of the ancient mayan sites and love going to them (the price is right too). Nothing beats being in a vast bio/ecological rainforest park such as where Tikal is situated, full of animals and birds such as parrots, toucans etc with the howler monkeys singing away sounding like nothing on earth.

I am struck over and over by the similarities to ancient Egypt. Even the Popul Vuh bears some relation to the AE creation myths with the creation mound etc. I love the fact that the scientific community studies the culture from a shamanistic/magic viewpoint. It is so much more enlightening.

I've thought about the lack of a forum too, but came to the conclusion that the difference is that the study is relatively new, the language has only been deciphered with the last 20-30 years and since the Olmecs have been firmly placed as the mother culture & the Mayans lost their luster as a peace loving time obsessed culture there have been really no disagreements within the archaelogical community. So in that context, what would there be on a forum?

I find I can get all the information I want from books and museum catalogs.


I once spent a couple of nights at a campground down the hill from Palenque. Lying in a hammock under an open palapa listening to the wildlife was an extroadinary experience.

Next day I asked the manager the way to the ruins and he pointed out a trail up the hill. As I climbed higher I could see the remains of unrestored ancient buildings on either side. The last stage was very steep and rocky. Then suddenly through the trees I saw a large stone temple. I went through the building and came out on the landing. I realized I was standing on one of the smaller pyramids. There spread out at my feet, was the ancient city with the Temple of the Inscriptions and the palace right in front of me.

Palenque, in my opinion is one of the most beautiful ancient sites in the world.

Being a low budget traveller, I was also delighted to find that I'd bypassed the ticket office.

I never made it to any Mayan sites outside of Mexico. This was back in the late 80s. I was travelling rock bottom cheap using public transportation, and I'd heard one too many stories of buses in Central America being stopped by (take your pick) government troops or rebel guerillas and people being hauled out and loaded into cattle trucks bound for God only knows what fate.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've often wondered how many sites there are in places such as the Yucatan that as still un-excavated. I know when I was at Citzen-Itza, from the top of the pyramid it was possible to see several jungle-covered mounds, which were obviously the remains of city/temple/pyramid sites.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unas wrote:
stephaniep, your description of Tikal sounds so amazing, with the wildlife noises going on around you. You mention the Popul Vuh--I've been thinking about buying a copy, but there seems to be many different versions/translations...I'm wondering if any particular version is better than another?

I don't know what the authorities say, I like the Popul Vuh text by Dennis Tedlock, I thought it poetic and very readable.

Two basic books (both paperbacks) are the Maya by Michael D. Coe and The Art of Mesoamerican America by Mary ellen Miller.

If you're interested in art the Met has a very nice but small collection easily found in the data base by tying Maya. They have some great Olmec stuff too.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naunaucht wrote
Quote:
I never made it to any Mayan sites outside of Mexico. This was back in the late 80s. I was travelling rock bottom cheap using public transportation, and I'd heard one too many stories of buses in Central America being stopped by (take your pick) government troops or rebel guerillas and people being hauled out and loaded into cattle trucks bound for God only knows what fate.


It's a lot safer than it used to be. I travel around Mex/C.A. on native buses with no problems and little/no spanish. It always amazes me that my luggage gets flung in the back of the bus (sans camera etc) and is always there when I get off. They always say the Peten is a problem, but I never had one. You do get used to traveling around guns however.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Osiris II wrote;
Quote:
I've often wondered how many sites there are in places such as the Yucatan that as still un-excavated. I know when I was at Citzen-Itza, from the top of the pyramid it was possible to see several jungle-covered mounds, which were obviously the remains of city/temple/pyramid sites.


About 10% is fully excavated, there are literally thousands of unexcavated mounds at every site, plus cities still to be found. They just found two major sites: Waka and Cancuen within the last 5(?) years.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stephaniep wrote:
Osiris II wrote;
Quote:
I've often wondered how many sites there are in places such as the Yucatan that as still un-excavated. I know when I was at Citzen-Itza, from the top of the pyramid it was possible to see several jungle-covered mounds, which were obviously the remains of city/temple/pyramid sites.


About 10% is fully excavated, there are literally thousands of unexcavated mounds at every site, plus cities still to be found. They just found two major sites: Waka and Cancuen within the last 5(?) years.


My impression is that the sites are not that easily accessible?

The Waka site is mentioned here:
http://www.archaeologywaka.org/archaeology.html

Is Cancuen an older name for Cancun?
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Unas
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, stephaniep, for the book suggestions!
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