Mayan Findings And Some Questions
As a fifteen year old, I read Eric Von Danikens series of books, one of the books being, The chariots of the Gods and wondered whether the great monuments of the World were indeed built by extra terrestrials, as the series of books argued.
Some time was spent on the terrace peering at the sky , hoping to catch up on those ET s
and if possible arrange for a scoop photograph of them. They didnt arrive, but Exams did.
A couple of years later, Architecture school taught that great civilizations existed in different parts of the World and the study of why and how people built their religious buildings was extremely interesting.
[ May be humans built them after all!]
A healthy sense of respect grew for all cultures that built and the Why they built what they built questions were answered well to a large extent, by the authors of text books.
The Pyramids in ancient Egypt, the Mastabas in ancient Mesopotamia and the Mayan relics seemed similar in their fundamental concept regarding form.[ Pyramidical forms and their derivatives]
The form of Hindu temple towers [ Both North Indian and Dravidian – that term pertains to region and not an ethnic group ] symbolized mountain [ Maha Meru] and the term Shikara that applied to the pinnacle of the tower literally means summit.
The first [ and sometimes the only]book on Architectural History all students of Architecture study, is by Sir Banister Fletcher and the later editions include a chapter on Mayan architecture.
However , Indians schools of Architecture dont prescribe this in their curriculum [ may be, hopefully its studied in the schools in the Americas ,as it is more relevant to them] and concentrate on Egyptian, Mesopotamian , Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Early Christian architecture in the first year of studies.
Yours truly taught this subject for a while a few years ago [ a subject thats generally handed over to History enthusiasts or better- put, nuts who dont mind sketching on the board/preparing a number of OHP slides] and those whorefer to five hundred years as "recent"…The experience which also gave an opportunity to spend a lot of time reading in a college library that was well stocked with good books.
I am thinking of working on a series of articles on why Hindu temple architecture didnt evolve much structurally [as some people point out ].
This will be from a different perspective as that of a person who saw ones owns treasures through someone elses eyes.]
Please correct me if I am wrong or too right here-I ve been wondering whether Mayan architecture
[ which provides probably the only set of evidences about that obliterated culture] may be suffering from the same syndrome Eastern cultures, especially ours suffer from.
[ Understand these Mayans from our Western, twenty first century perspective . Prepare those results we like and conduct experiments to prove those results].
Built concrete evidences are not the only way to understand a bygone culture and we need literary evidence too.
How much of that is available in this case?
I am reminded of another article I read about how a young girls mummified corpse [ in a sitting position] was found in South America and the sentimental lines about human sacrifice.
I was again wondering how of this human sacrifice issue is true. Could it have been for religious reasons as the article pointed out?
Or could it have been honor killing not sanctioned by the religion and hence a sociological issue that opens a window to those times?
I have heard of a particular Amman in TN,a female deity worshipped by a particular group [ the sacred feminine Indians are comfortable with] who was actually a young girl killed by her own family as they wanted to protect her from a lecherous king.
What evidence tells the researchers that people were sacrificed on religious beliefs rather than sociological reasons?
Please read on and share your thoughts…
I am pasting an Yahoo article here and adding my comments [ in italics ] in between.
Special to LiveScience
Tue Feb 26, 2:55 PM ET
It was long thought that the ancient stone pyramid temples of the Maya were built by their royalty.
Now it turns out any number of different factions among the Maya – nobles, priests and maybe even commoners – may have built temples, scientists now suggest.
The fact that different groups had the will and the power to build temples suggests "the Maya could choose which temples to worship in and support; they had a voice in who succeeded politically," said researcher Lisa Lucero, an archaeologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Could it be that true pluralism existed then and just how today in India , different community groups build different type of Hindu temples based on their belief sytem ,all within the same village?
We once did a study in a village near Chennai and noted that, apart from a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, there were temples built by different communities that were dedicated to Lord Muruga, Devi [Amman] and Muniswaran.
The building style is the same ,but they are temples built and maintained by different classes of people. Seems to me a case of pluralism rather than political will.
The first temples of the Maya arose more than 2,000 years ago. Their word for these stone pyramids was the same as their word for mountain, and the massive stepped temples at times reached more than 200 feet high.
Note that this period is close to the period when Buddhist structures were evolving. [The period as per the books]
Mountain? Maha Meru? Tower symbolism?
Why were some cultures more interested in piling up of masonry rather than liberating space? by freeing it from columns? Did they lack the ability to do lateral thinking as some researcgers suggest ? Or was their Architecture [as was their culture] heavily hung on symbolism?
"Human sacrifice did occur at temples, but only rarely, unlike the Aztec, who sacrificed daily in the belief the sun would not rise otherwise," Lucero said. "Only a few powerful Maya kings performed human sacrifice, and they did it to kill rulers from elsewhere. And they didn't do it to bring, say, better weather, but to highlight 'me, me, me.'"
What sort of evidences exist to prove this point?. Informed readers, please let me know.
Lucero and her colleagues investigated temples in Yalbac, a Mayan center in the steaming jungles of central Belize. "We were surrounded by howler monkeys, toucans, spider monkeys, orchids, spiders, scorpions and snakes," she recalled. "Killer bees are now in the area, and a hive can just appear one day. I ran immediately when I saw one, and I was still stung four times."
Mysteriously, there are six temples all close together in Yalbac, ranging from 25 to 50 feet high. "Why did they need six? Did they have one for different days of the week? Different gods? Different seasons?" Lucero wondered.
Upon investigating each temple – which date from the Late Classic period of Mayan history , about 550 to 850 A.D. – she noted their construction and materials could differ from each other quite significantly. Two higher quality temples used larger outermost stones and more mortar to fill the insides of the pyramids. "These essentially cost more money, and may have been royal," Lucero said. "But the other temples may not have been built by royalty at all."
Each temple might have served a different god, such as the rain god Chak, or the sun god or maize god. The building of each temple might also serve as a record of ancient power struggles.
Power struggles or coming to terms with pluralism?
"When a new ruler comes to power, they might build their own place, or if the rulers did not predict the best time to plant crops, others might suggest, 'Come to my temple, the ruler has clearly failed,'" Lucero said.
In and around Tamil nadu , one will find hundreds of temples built by the Pallavas and by the later Cholas.
Were the kings who built them mere almanac experts?
They were Shaivite and Vaishnavite kings who reserved the best material [ stone] for the sacred rather than for themselves.
Is there an attempt to demean , by using informal language, to trivialize these religious structures and the culture itself through that attempt?
Looters had carved nine trenches into the Yalbac site in their pursuit of ancient treasure. This summer Lucero and her colleagues hope to see "if the looters missed caches – artifacts consisting of shell, jade, ceramics, lithics, et cetera – that may provide clues as to temple function and purpose," she said.
So is the study dependent on the looterss left overs?
In that case, how confident can we be, while asserting ithi hasa [ Thus it happened] as in the line me me me or Come to my temple? .
Is there a conscious attempt to make one think ancient American cultures =impalers/human sacrificers/gory ritual practioners as in the lines of Hinduism =Casteism ?
More posts by this author:
- ITS Issues-Ferrous Oxide And Flights Of Fancy
- Hindu Temple Architecture-I
- The Temple at Thanjavur
- Hindu Temple Architecture-II
- Hindu Temple Architecture-III