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View Diary: Ancient America: The Gods of Palenque (65 comments)

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  •  It just fascinates me no end that you (3+ / 0-)
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    Ojibwa, Anak, Geekesque

    can say when their gods were "born" and when the square was dedicated.  They really had an idee fixe in their calendar.

    One theory was that it was based on the milky way atrributes iirc?

    I don't think we have ever had another culture so caught up in their calander system that we actually KNEW when something happened

    We have a generation of leaders – Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama, Cameron – who don't seem to have the faintest idea of what they're doing. Politics is now nothing more than people saying hopeful things with their fingers crossed... - David Hare

    by glitterscale on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 12:59:14 PM PDT

    •  And just think, if one fanatically Catholic (4+ / 0-)
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      Anak, glitterscale, Bluefin, Geekesque

      monk had not gathered and burned hundreds of Mayan books, we'd know so much more about their culture.  But, he saw the glyphs as "satanic" and forced the Maya to deliver their books to him.  He tortured and tortured people until as many books as could be found were turned in, then burned them in a great pile in the Mayan healing center of Izamal.

      Fanatics about religion do more damage than good in any era.

      Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

      by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 01:44:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Burning books (5+ / 0-)

        Here is the essay from the Ancient America series about Burning Books

        •  Heartbreaking. They were burning books (3+ / 0-)
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          Ojibwa, YucatanMan, Geekesque

          from the storming of Tenochtitlan in 1519/1521 up until the last of the books they found storming the Mayan capital of Tayasal in 1697. Europeans had learned nothing about respect in the 170 year interval.

          Meteor Blades seems to do an outstanding job of community moderation despite the abject failure to be perfect.

          by catilinus on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:11:49 PM PDT

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      •  As a consolation prize, he did write about it (4+ / 0-)
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        Anak, Ojibwa, YucatanMan, Geekesque

        and ironically, he described enough about the calendar and the writing system that we were later able to figure out the script.

        Bishop Landa was a fanatic, but also a student of the culture he was destroying.

        You can't govern if you can't tell the country where you are taking it. The plot of Obama's presidency has been harder to follow than "Inception." -- F. Rich

        by mbayrob on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 02:14:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some recent scholarship on that regard shows (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, Geekesque

          that his "apologia" book about the Mayan culture, supposedly for years said to reflect his love of the Mayan people and the Yucatan, was really part of his long-standing scheming to be returned to Yucatan as bishop.

          A review of documents and letters from the day seem to show that he was a very conniving devious person who stopped at nothing - torture, murder, slander, and fabrications of his own motivations - to gain more power within the church structure.  Diego de Landa Calderón was the Dick Cheney of the day.

          Wikipedia is a convenient, but also brief, source to show this:

          In 1562 he conducted the infamous auto-da-fé of Maní, which attracted negative attention from many other authorities, both secular and ecclesiastical. Bishop Toral saw this action as impinging on the authority of the Bishop and in Landa had to return to Spain to defend himself against accusations of excessive violence in the conversion of the Maya and of overstepping his authority.

          His actions were strongly condemned before the Council of the Indies. This resulted in a "committee of doctors" being commissioned to investigate Landa's alleged crimes.

          In 1569 the committee absolved Landa of his crimes and when Bishop de Toral died in 1571 Landa was appointed Bishop in his place and he took the seat in 1573.

          Landa's period as Bishop was marked by continued campaigns of extirpation of idolatry among the Maya and he continued attracting opposition from secular authorities who found his methods excessive.

          He continued to destroy Mayan artifacts and books, even after his Relación de las cosas de Yucatán was written.  We don't even know what the real version looked like, as we only have abridged copies available today.

          For those who don't know, his auto-de-fe (the obtusely named "act of faith") was essentially the Spanish Inquisition brought to Yucatan, with all the torture, slaughter and misery that accompanied it in Spain.

           The "reducciones" (reductions = mass relocations of the Maya into what we would consider concentration camps where forced labor, worship and instruction occurred) resulted in genocide as people simply died from starvation (the Spanish style of agriculture didn't work that well in Yucatan) and heartbreak.  A huge percentage of the population died off during the reducciones.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/...
          Torture and murder of indigenous peoples "attracted negative attention."
          Wow... talk about your understatement of the year.  

          Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

          by YucatanMan on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 02:35:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder what on earth possesses people (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa, YucatanMan, Geekesque

        to totally be mean and heartless like that and so closed minded they cannot see the real treasures. Maybe it is a genetic thing and we see the offspring in our tbaggers?

        We have a generation of leaders – Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama, Cameron – who don't seem to have the faintest idea of what they're doing. Politics is now nothing more than people saying hopeful things with their fingers crossed... - David Hare

        by glitterscale on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 03:24:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fanaticism - to religion, to a cause, to a person. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, Geekesque, glitterscale

          Fanatics and followers do damage everywhere they go. They see no gray and only the bright light of their own good, versus the dark evil of all who oppose them (or even don't happen to follow the prescribed pattern of behavior, yet do not oppose them).

          Fanatics are a cause of great misery. Combine Fanatics with Power, and terrible damage can be done.

          Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

          by YucatanMan on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 03:01:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Linda Schele wrote a lot about that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, Geekesque

      Schele was one of the main people who really cracked open the classical language.  I have her book, Maya Cosmos, which (among other things) talks about how their mythology fit in with their concepts of the heavens.  Like the Greeks, it looks like many of their old stories are tied to things they could see in the sky.  She was originally an artist by training, and used her expertise in their iconography to help do this.

      We got lucky on the calendar, I think.  First, unlike many ancient cultures, they had a calendar ("a calendar" -- they had more than one system) that counted back to a point in the past, which they saw as the time of creation.  Why they chose that data I don't think anybody really knows.  It probably wasn't even the Maya that invented the Long Count anyway.

      Second, Landa recorded just enough info so we could correlate the ritual calendar (the 260 day cycle and the 365 day cycles, which create a sort of 52 year century used together), which was still in use when the Spanish arrived.  Since Long Count dates always include the 52-year calendar round, they were able to use various clues and astronomical tables from the four remaining Maya books to figure out how to align the two systems.

      You can't do that with Egypt, for example, because they used reign years for their kings.  So translating Egyptian dates to our dates is a lot less certain.

      You can't govern if you can't tell the country where you are taking it. The plot of Obama's presidency has been harder to follow than "Inception." -- F. Rich

      by mbayrob on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 04:14:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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