A small hoard of artifacts have been discovered underneath the central plaza at Paso del Macho in northern Yucatan. The cache may have been put there as an offering when the Maya settlement was founded between 900 and 800 BCE.
And the inhabitants were trying to make sure they succeeded in their new home: the artifacts are some of the earliest evidence of Maya fertility rituals to encourage crop growth and rainfall. There are a number of artifacts symbolizing maize sprouting from the underworld and several pots painted with fertility images, plus spoons, clamshell pendants, and a large plaque.
The Maya at Chichen Itza were known to practice human sacrifice a thousand years ago. Who they were sacrificing, though, has long been a mystery. A recent isotope analysis of tooth enamel from sacrificial victims
thrown into the city’s Sacred Cenote shows that there was some variety in who was sacrificed. Some grew up locally, while others hailed from the Gulf Coast, the
Central Highlands, and as far away as Central America.
How the mix of individuals were chosen, and how those from further away ended up in Chichen Itza, remains unknown – there is always something more to investigate.
Mexican archaeologists recently announced their discovery of two mammoth traps, where wholly mammoths could be herded then killed once trapped. Most importantly, the pits have been dated to 15,000 years ago. That makes them the oldest evidence of prehistoric hunting pits in the Americas.
The two pits contained about 824 bones from at least 14 mammoths. And one of the skulls found had marks of a spear wound on the front, suggesting that hunters were actively attacking the large mammoths.
Previously, it was thought that human hunters during this period were frightening mammoths into getting stuck in swamps and then waiting for them to die. The pits combined with the evidence of a spear wound show that human hunters were already taking a more active role in getting their dinners.
Technically, she was known as Diego Rivera’s partner – an exotic eccentric. Her own work, while selling in her final decade, was often overshadowed by her Bohemian reputation, and her dressing in traditional Mexican costume. She could not live off her art until late in life.By 1953, such was her declining physical state that for her first Mexican solo show, her four poster bed was taken from her house to the gallery. Kahlo arrived by ambulance and was transferred from the ambulance to a stretcher to her bed.
She died in 1954, and her work as an artist was left to languish until it was rediscovered in the 1970s by art historians and political activists. As you know, she is now a worldwide household name. Quite a life-after-death.
In 1577, King Philip II of Spain wanted to know whom he was ruling and where in his vast kingdom they were. So his viceroy asked the indigenous groups in what is now Mexico to draw some maps for him.
In response, they drew maps blending indigenous and Spanish traditions. Sometimes rivers are straight, with tiny arrows in the middle, to indicate which way they flow. Paths have footprints or hoofprints in the middle, to indicate whether the paths can be walked or ridden. These beautiful maps, and their way of recording the landscape, are a silent testimony to the survival of indigenous worldviews into the late 1500s.
Most people think the pizzas they know and love – four cheese, pepperoni – were invented in Italy. But they were actually developed by Italian immigrants in the United
States, and then exported back to Italy. Syracuse University
anthropologist Agehananda Bharati calls this the “pizza effect.” Here are some other examples of when
elements of a nation’s culture developed elsewhere and were then reimported:
Mexico City’s Day of the Dead parade was invented for the James Bond film Spectre and then adopted by the city.
American blues music influenced English musicians in the 1960s, who then exported blues-rock to the United States.
Adapted from India’s chicken tikka, chicken tikka masala became one
of the most popular dishes in Britain before being re-exported to India.
Yoga became popular in India after its adoption in the West.
Salsa music originated largely among Cuban and Puerto Rican
immigrants to New York in the 1920s and then spread throughout the
Teppanyaki, the Japanese style of cooking on an iron griddle, grew to prominence in America in “Japanese steakhouses.”
After a villager notified authorities about a cave hidden beneath the Maya site of Chichen Itza, archaeologists crawled hundreds of feet through passages that were only 16 inches high in places. In the cave, they encountered hundreds of undisturbed ritual artifacts, including incense burners depicting the rain god Tlaloc.
Here’s the funny part – this was actually the second time this cave was discovered! The cave was first discovered by locals about 50 years ago. At the time, they alerted archaeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto to the find. He ordered the cavern sealed and issued a brief report, which was soon forgotten. Last year, locals once again pointed out the location to archaeologists, and this time they decided to actually investigate it.
This sounds like a bungled opportunity by Pinto but today’s archaeologists say it was a boon. Because everything was left in situ, and they plan to leave the artifacts in the cave now, it will remain an intact time capsule that can be studied with the most modern of techniques. Cutting edge 3-D mapping and paleobotany examinations are in the works. And who knows what scientists will come up with in the future? The current plan is that the cave, intact and preserved, will be waiting to be examined by each new generation of techniques.