The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Friday, August 1, 2014


Fossils Reveal that Maya People Knew about Prehistory
For Palenque inhabitants, marine fossils were the convincing proof of the land being covered by the sea long time ago, and parting from this fact they created their idea of the origin of the world. Photo: INAH.
MEXICO CITY.- Recent interdisciplinary investigations regarding 31 marine fossils found at Palenque Archaeological Zone, in Chiapas, reveal that Maya people conceived their beliefs parting from this kind of vestiges, so their idea of the underworld was associated to water.

For Palenque inhabitants, marine fossils were the convincing proof of the land being covered by the sea long time ago, and parting from this fact they created their idea of the origin of the world, declared archaeologist Martha Cuevas, responsible, with geologist Jesus Alvarado, of research conducted by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Ongoing for 3 years, the investigation is oriented to understand symbolism given by ancient Mayas to Prehistoric vestiges, specifically the 31 specimens found at the archaeological site.

The INAH researcher mentioned that petrified rests have been found mainly at funerary contexts, standing out the fossils of different marine animals, shark teeth and stingray spines deposited as part of funerary offerings.

“During investigation conducted at the North Group temples and the structure in front of them, slabs with marine fossils were used by Mayas as tombstones or offered to deities, which is important in the study of Maya cosmogony”.

Until now, 31 fossils from different periods have been discovered, being the earliest from the Paleocene, nearly 63 million years ago. “Vestiges were used in ritual contexts during the Late Classic period (600-850 AD), when they were found by Palenque people”.

This research “looks forward to know if it was through contact with fossils more than 1,200 years ago, that these elements were incorporated to their world view.

“We believe that parting from these probable chance discoveries they began forming the idea of the creation of the world that we know thanks to iconographic representations and hieroglyphic texts left behind, as well as myths that are part of oral tradition”, commented Martha Cuevas.

She added that “according to information from Colonial myths, for Palenque people these fossils were testimonies of land being covered by the sea in ancient times; when gods ordered water to retire, their city emerged and the actual era began.

“Mayas from Palenque had the notion that the Earth was different thousand years ago, and that the world was mutable, subject of transformation”.

Confirming this would mean that they inferred that marine fossils were important because they referred to the moment of the origin of humanity and were related to death; they believed that when people died they returned to their place of origin.

“The fact of have used fossils in funerary contexts is related with the conception they had about the underworld, as the aquatic destiny they reached after dying”, added up the INAH archaeologist.

Martha Cuevas also mentioned that research includes the study of iconographic representations and hieroglyphic texts found at the site, which, in a way, are related with the fossils.

An example of this is the 14th Tableaux. It represents a scene of the mythic trip to the underworld of the Maya ruler Kan Balam II to a remote epoch, 932,000 years back.

“According to the legend, when Kan Balam II died in 702 AD, his brother and successor K’an Joy Chitam II ordered the creation of this remarkable relief. We can see in the stele a dancing Kan Balam II and his mother, also deceased, Ts’ak Ahaw.

“The bottom of the relief shows 3 levels marked with glyphs that indicate the place where the characters are found; the expressions “nab”, body of water, and “hets’an Kk nab”, calmed sea, refer to the aspect of the world during that mythic age, when everything was water and gods had not ordered land to emerge”.

“Painted on vessels we have found representations of fish species, shark teeth and stingray spines similar to those found in fossils”, she concluded.

--------
Martha Ruszkowski has kindly translated this article into Ukranian. It can be seen here

Mexico | National Institute of Anthropology and History | Palenque Archaeological Zone |


Today's News

June 12, 2010

German Artist and Capitalist Realism Movement Founder Sigmar Polke Dies at Age 69

Rubens, Guercino, Pencz and Van Dyck to Highlight Christie's Sale

Fossils Reveal that Maya People Knew about Prehistory

Collection of Radiant Masterpieces by Henri Matisse at Helly Nahmad Gallery

Sotheby's Amsterdam Presents Works by Cornelis Springer and Georg Baselitz

PAFA to Showcase Seminal Flag Painting by Celebrated Artist Jasper Johns

Prado and Meadows Museum Announce Three-Year Partnership

National Gallery of Canada Brings International Superstars of the Contemporary Art World to Ottawa

Van Gogh Museum Wins Grand Prix of the European Heritage Award for the Van Gogh Letters Project

Frick Announces Intention to Enclose Portico to Create Gallery for Sculpture and Decorative Arts

Recent Work by Photographer Alex Prager at Michael Hoppen Contemporary

Sotheby's Achieves Highest-Ever Total for a Sale of Asian Art in France

Irene Hofmann Named Phillip s Director and Chief Curator of SITE Santa Fe

Scotland's Answer to the Turner Prize Announces Shortlist

New Visions, New Londons: New Commissions for the Galleries of Modern London

Russian Art Sales "Solid", but Not Spectacular

First Solo Exhibition of Works by London-Based Artist, Djordje Ozbolt, at Hauser & Wirth

Charles L. Conlan II, Laurence Graff, and Edward J. Minskoff Join MOCA Board

The Smithsonian and Synchrotron Soleil Join to Analyze Antiquities, Cultural Heritage Materials

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Archaeologists discover Roman 'free choice' cemetery in the 2,700-year-old ancient port of Rome

2.- Romanians must pay 18 million euros over Kunsthal Museum Rotterdam art heist

3.- Hello Kitty designer Yuko Yamaguchi defends cute character as cat turns 40 years old

4.- eBay and Sotheby's partner to bring world class art and collectibles to a global community

5.- Exhibition on Screen returns with new series of films bringing great art to big screens across the globe

6.- Marina Abramović reaches half way point of her '512 Hours' performance at the Serpentine Gallery

7.- The Phillips Collection in Washington introduces a uCurate app for curating on-the-go

8.- United States comic icon Archie Andrews dies saving openly gay character

9.- New feathered predatory fossil, unearthed in China, sheds light on dinosaur flight

10.- Exhibition at Thyssen Bornemisza Museum presents an analysis of the concept of the 'unfinished'

Related Stories



Mexico's Mayas face Dec. 21 with ancestral calm

Diverse Cultures Contributed to New Mexico Art

Mexican Authorities Recover 144 Original Pre-Columbian Pieces and Colonial Religious Works

Objects Found in Teotihuacan Neighborhood Exhibited

Reconstruction of 10,000 Year-Old Woman Found in Mexico Suggests Diverse Migration

Diego Rivera Created the Mexican Revolution Plastic Myth

More Findings Registered Under Palacio de Bellas Artes

Vestiges of a Prehispanic Oven to Melt Copper Found in Zacatecas

Ichnites Site in Coahuila Undergo Maintenance Thanks to Temporary Employment Program

Tembleque Aqueduct Registered in 3D Images



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site