Monday, September 02, 2013

Pre-Columbian Discoveries Summer 2013

LIMA (AFP).- The discovery in Peru of another tomb belonging to a pre-Hispanic priestess, the eighth in more than two decades, confirms that powerful women ruled this region 1,200 years ago, archeologists said. The remains of the woman from the Moche -- or Mochica -- civilization were discovered in late July in an area called La Libertad in the country's northern Chepan province. It is one of several finds in this region that have amazed scientists. In 2006, researchers came across the famous "Lady of Cao" -- who died about 1,700 years ago and is seen as one of the first female rulers in Peru. "This find makes it clear that women didn't just run rituals in this area but governed here and were queens of Mochica society," project director Luis Jaime Castillo told AFP. "It is the eighth priestess to be discovered," he added. "Our excavations have only turned up tombs with women, never men." The priestess was in an "impressive 1,200-year-old burial chamber" the archeologist said, pointing out that the ... More
2. GUATEMALA CITY.- AFP PHOTO/ Holmul Archaeological Project.

Archaeologists have struck upon a “once in a lifetime” find, an incredibly well-preserved 26-by-8-feet frieze buried beneath a temple in Holmul, a jungle-filled pre-Columbian research site in northeastern Guatemala, the BBC reports. The sculpture depicts rulers and the gods, some decorated with jade.
The sculpture is believed to depict the crowning of a new Mayan leader in about AD590.
It also bears an inscription made up of 30 glyphs, which was deciphered by Harvard University expert Alex Tokovinine.
The inscription says that the carving was commissioned by the ruler of a nearby city-state, Ajwosaj ChanK’inich.
The frieze was buried beneath a large pyramid, which was constructed over it around 200 years later. Though the pyramid obscured the great work of art below, it likely contributed to the frieze’s preservation since it was protect from the elements and, perhaps, from looters. Indeed, the archeological team behind the discovery came across the frieze while exploring an area broken into by looters.
National Geographic elaborates on the finding and how it fits in to the larger Mayan history:
The central figure’s name is the only readable one: Och Chan Yopaat, meaning “the storm god enters the sky.”
Estrada-Belli and his team speculate that Och Chan Yopaat may have been the leader that the Naranjo king, Ajwosaj, established as the ruler of Holmul after wresting the city back from the Tikal dynasty.
Archeologists report in a press release that they hope the other hieroglyphs, once translated, will shed light on the “game of alliances” that different Mayan kingdoms were engaged in during this time period.

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3. MEXICO CITY.- Anomalies that correspond to a pair of 2 and 3 meter [6.56 and 9.84 feet] cavities detected by a georadar in the front part of the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque, and the corroboration that the Pakal II crypt doesn’t rest over original rock, signal that this funerary chamber was not the starting point of this celebrated Mayan construction, as it’s discoverer (archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier) suggested.

Such conjecture derives of the preliminary results obtained by the use of geophysical techniques thatNational Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the National Council of Science and Technology and the National Center of National Investigation (CNRS) of France.

The engineers Jose Ortega Ramirez and Luis Angel Villa Alvarado, from the Geophysics Laboratory of INAH, as well as Ph.D Maksim Bano and Ph.D Pascal Sailhac from CNRS, where transferred to this archaeological zone located in the north of Chiapas, in order to further their studies.

Discovered more than 60 years ago by archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, the crypt of K’inich

In the Temple of Inscriptions they have alternated the use of the Georadar for Surface Penetration with the Electrical Resistance Tomography. The engineer Luis Angel Villa Alvarado, technician of the Geophysical Laboratory in INAH explained that the effects of the tomography are similar to those of an electrocardiogram of the human body.

At the same time, Ph.D Maksim Bano, who has collaborated with archaeological projects in diverse parts of the world, said that their participation in one of the most important cities of Mayan culture is not limited to knowing the physical aspects of the subsoil of the Temple of Inscriptions, but also “the secrets that the funerary chamber could hold for such a character as Pakal”.

The purpose, based on the information obtained by the georadar and the tomography of the electrical resistance, is to develop a project of exploration, expressed the archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz, responsible of the archaeological work in Palenque.

“It’s true that there is a theory revolving around an access to the tomb of Pakal II by the frontal part of the building, but this will not stop being mere speculation until a more formal archaeological work is done in the exterior, and supported in technology based on geophysical prospection”. 

3. MEXICO CITY.- The 19 steles found in the ancient Mayan city of Chactun, recently discovered in the southeast of Campeche, will allow archaeologists to collect new data about the ancient inhabitants of this region, located north of the River Bec, of which we know little about. The archaeologist and epigraphist Octavio Esparza Olguin signaled that epigraphic registries are not abundant in this region, which is why the pieces found are of such importance.

The expert in epigraphy, who is part of the expedition endorsed by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), and who advanced deep into the Biosphere Reserve of Calakmul, explained that from the pieces found at the site, three are in a good state of conservation, and seven still allow the observation of hieroglyphic writing, although its conservation state is so precarious that events and precise dates are difficult to appreciate. Another nine remain severely eroded.

Esparza Olguien said that it’s exceptional that Stele 1 still has stucco remains, because this material is rarely conserved in tropical weather after so long. The piece gives name to the place, since it makes reference to a “Red Stone” or “Big Stone”, which was set up by a character named K’ihnich B’ahlam, in the year 751 AD.

Octavio Esparza, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said that many of the pieces found at the site –which flourished in the Late Classic period (600 through 900 AD)– were reused some time later. “The majority of the fragments were placed in the ball courts and the plazas in the West and Southeast”.

The epigraphist mentioned that Stele 14 is a clear example of how this site was used by later
civilizations, since it was buried and a wall was attached to its front, which prevents archaeologists from seeing the character clearly, although a long calendar date corresponding to 731 AD and part of a lunar cycle can be distinguished.

They also found remains of late offerings in some monuments, such as the case of Stele 1, where it was possible to rescue some ceramic censers that were deposited towards the end of the Late Classic period or beginning the Posclassic period (900 through 1200 AD). “Many of these pieces –added the expert– where placed by people who were on a pilgrimage as an act of respect, although they probably didn’t understand the meaning of the hieroglyphic texts”.


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