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The Cultural Centre of Spain in Mexico City just launched a new exhibit featuring Aztec artifacts belonging to an ancient school. Archaeologists have revealed that the excavated school, known as the Calmecac, is thought to have been a place of education for the future of the Aztec elite. The Aztec youth were trained militarily and politically in the school to pursue lives of greatness and leadership. Students went on to become priests, governors, and fighters after leaving the Calmecac. Javier Gonzalez, the spokesperson for Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History explained, “So this was an institution where the children of nobility, generally speaking, were prepared to be future leaders and governors of Tenochtitlan or warriors.”

Read more at MexicoToday

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An exhibit focusing on the ancient Maya has opened at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.

The exhibit is entitled “Maya – Secrets of their Ancient World” and will stay into 2012. Plans are also being made for the display to appear at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.

During an interview, Dr. Justin Jennings, lead curator of the exhibit, discussed the project, stating,

“Really what we’re going try to do with this Maya show is take you all the way back to the 7th century AD and take you back to the classic Maya…we’re going to start this show – Secrets of their Ancient World – is to begin by going back to the initial moments of discovery,” Jennings said.

Most of the exhibit will focus on the ancient city of Palenque. The centre of a kingdom, the site is known for its palace and temples and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This section of the exhibit will include reproductions of the ancient city, showing what it looked like in antiquity.

In the 19th century, explorers penetrating into the jungles of Central America came across the ruins of Mayan cities. Overgrown with vegetation the discovery piqued their interest, leading to formal scientific study in the century ahead.

Following the Palenque display, the exhibition then turns its attention to a section on Mayan warfare and sacrifice.

The exhibit will also look at the modern Maya and the famous Mayan calendar, which, some argue, predicts the end of the world in 2012. “We’ll talk about 2012 and how you’re world is going to end or not end.”

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The solar calendar, also known as “xiuhpohualli” for counting of the years, was kept on a 365-day solar count. This was also the agricultural and ceremonial calendar of the Aztec state. It was divided into 18 periods, with each period containing 20 days, called veintenas. This left five days that were not represented. These were called “nemontemi.” These were the five transition days between the old and the new year, and were considered days of nothing. This was a time of festivals. People came to the festivals with their best clothes on, and took part in singing and dancing. This is also when the priest would perform sacrifices, most of these sacrifices were human, but others were preformed on animals and fruit.

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Pyramid of Quetzalcoaltl, Teotihuacan, Mexico, 300 AD – One of the great Gods of Ancient Mesoamerica, Quetzalcoatl is a synthesis of serpent and bird. The name means “quetzal serpent”. The quetzal was a sacred bird of very beautiful feathers which were used in elite and ritual costumes. Quetzalcoatl, the patron of rulership, had several incarnations, the most important were as a creator god, as Ehecatl, the God of Wind; as the Morning Star; and asTopiltzin, a semi-human ruler, unique among the Gods.

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La Venta, Mexico. 1000B.C. – The Olmec flourished as the first major civilization of Mesoamerica between 1500 and 600 BC and were the first in the region to use stone for sculpture and architecture. Among other monolithic works, the Olmec carved three-dimensional stone heads, ranging in height from 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 ft), and some sources estimate that the largest weighs as much as 40 tons, although most reports place the larger heads at 20 tons. They were made out of basalt boulders quarried in distant mountains. Archaeologists believe the heads, all of which have similar facial features and wear helmets, are portraits of Olmec rulers.

Credit: http://www.exploringabroad.com/art/mexican.htm

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The Mexican government will soon be relinquishing highly sought after information about the Mayan calendar and ancient Mayan civilization. This information has been carefully safeguarded for 80 years and will be used to help shed light on the year 2012 and be included in the new documentary Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond.

Read the full article at Mexico Today

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Venue: American Museum of Natural History
(212) 769-5100
Central Park West at 79th Street,
New York, NY 10024

The diverse art, architecture, and traditions of the Maya, Toltec, Olmec, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican pre-Columbian cultures are the subjects of this hall. The outstanding collections on display include monuments, figurines, pottery, and jewelry that span from around 1200 B.C. to the early 1500s. Each object provides clues about the political and religious symbols, social traits, and artistic styles of its cultural group.

Especially striking works on view include Costa Rican gold ornaments and a 3,000-year-old Olmec jade sculpture called the Kunz Axe, which may represent a chief or a shaman who transformed himself into a jaguar to partake of the animal’s power. Also displayed are 9th-century Mayan stone carvings depicting scenes of conquest. Existing as early as 1500 B.C., the Mayan culture did not consist of a single empire, but rather was a collection of independent city-states that alternately warred and traded with one another.

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