The pyramids of Mesoamerica are the most prominent part of Mesoamerican architecture and the most fascinating! Many are similar both in shape and form and are of the step pyramid form with temples on top of them. They’ve been compared to the Egyptian pyramids but, in fact, they most resemble the ziggurats of Mesopotamia more than the pyramids of Egypt. The largest pyramid in the world in terms of volume if the Pyramid of Cholula in Puebla, Mexico, incidentally.
The two most famous people of this region are the Aztecs and Maya and both of them built pyramids. Others in the region who also built pyramids were the lesser known Purepechan people and the mysterious builders of Teotihuacan not far from Mexico City. The Toltec also built pyramids and we used to think they built the magnificent pyramids at Teotihuacan but today that is a question mark because we really do not know who built them. The Zapotec people were also pyramid builders as well as several others. Not only did these people build pyramids but they also build magnificent ball courts, fortresses, and palaces.
The Maya built their pyramids out of adobe bricks and then covered them with limestone. They actually built two types of pyramids. One was built and intended to be climbed and others were not. Some of them had very steep staircases with temples at the top used for sacrificial rituals we think. It’s believed that the Maya started building pyramids about 3 kya. Then for no apparent reason around 900 AD the Maya and others began to abandon their cities and pyramids. There are many theories as to why but nothing is known for certain. Also, I must mention that the Maya and other pyramid builders often claim they did NOT build the pyramids or the cities but they simply found them abandoned so they moved in. Some scholars believe many of these sites may have been built by an earlier people known as the Olmec (aka: the “rubber people”). The Olmec are believed to have been the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica.
Pyramid structures can also be found in such odd places as Florida and Georgia in the US. Some people think that they were built by the Maya. There are rumors of a great red Maya style pyramid somewhere in Arizona near Flagstaff in Arizona that is yet to be discovered and I’ve posted about this before. Pyramids are also found in China and other parts of the world so, in fact, pyramids and pyramid building was something common not rare.
The Pyramid of the Sun at the Teotihuacan site is massive! People climbing up its steps look like ants from down below on the ground. This pyramid is the largest structure at the site. Although we don’t know who built this site for certain we do know that the pyramid was likely NOT called the Pyramid of the Sun as we call it today. That is a modern name for it. It is 738 feet across and 246 feet high. That makes it the third largest pyramid on the planet that we know of. It was covered with a lime plaster when it was built and painted with colorful murals that have long disappeared mostly. The temple that once stood atop this pyramid has long been destroyed by natural elements and people in the area.
As I mentioned before the pyramids of Mesoamerica more closely resemble the ziggurats of Mesopatamia than they do the pyramids of Egypt. Both are step-style structures where those in Egypt are smooth with no staircases. In fact, the pyramids of China are more like those in Egypt than those of Mesoamerica.
All sorts of theories have been put forth about what pyramids were actually used for from claiming they were mainly burial chambers to power plants. We don’t really know what they were used for. What we do know is that they are found all over the world and they all have similar features. And btw satellite images indicated that there are many more sites with pyramid structures not yet excavated in Mesoamerica and China still covered with dirt and vegetation.
Ruins at Teotihuacan< Mexico
Big populations require big food supplies and that has been one of the problems when it comes to Teotihuacan in Mexico. Wild animals are few and far between in the area and at its peak in the 1st and 5th centuries A.D. this ancient city housed around 100,000 people. That number made Teotihuacan the largest city in the New World at the time. In other parts of the world large cities with such large populations relied on domesticated animals for a food supply such as sheep, cattle, and goats but in Teotihuacan such animals were unavailable.
Oddly enough a recent study at the site concluded that the people raised rabbits! Cottontails and Jackrabbits as a means of food! Cottontails are ok BUT have you ever ate a Jackrabbit? They are tough and have a strong wild taste. They are much bigger than cottontails as well. The study postulates that the people of Teotihuacan used not only the meat from these rabbits but also the fur and other parts of the animals. Apparently, the rabbit industry was an important industry for the economy and food supply here. Breeding rabbits was also big Continue Reading
Chinampa was a type of Mesoamerican agriculture that involved using small rectangular areas of fertile and arable land to grow crops on shallow lake beds. In the Valley of Mexico chinampas were made by the shoreline of the northern part of the central lake system by the Aztecs. The central lake also contained their capital, Tenochtitlan, which is Mexico City today. Continue Reading
“The Northern Toltec in the American Southwest”
Authors: Dr Roberto Peron, Barb Benson, Rob L.
Dr. Cyclone Covey was a history professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and he had some interesting theories. One book he authored entitled “Calalus” tells of what he believes was a Roman Jewish colony in Arizona northeast of Tucson. He believed the “Tucson Artifacts” were real although most scholars believe them to be fakes. I’ll be posting about these artifacts after I examine them myself very soon.
Portrait of the Toltec emperor Tecpancaltzin lztaccaltzin, 9th ruler of the Toltecs
Covey believed various Jews sailed from the Portuguese port of Porto Cale and founded a city in Florida which they named “Cale.” Today this alleged ancient settlement is known as Ocala which is in North-Central Florida. He also held the view that some Jews escaped Rome and they also set sail to the Americas from Porto Cale in Portugal. Once across the Atlantic they established a Jewish-Roman colony in 775 A. D. near Tucson, Arizona. Further, he believes that during this time the Toltec controlled most of what is today Arizona and New Mexico and that they continuously fought with these new arrivals from Europe until decades later when they finally defeated them and took the Jews captive after destroying their two cities in Arizona. So, these northern Toltec took the Jewish-Roman survivors captive and marched them to Tula, the Toltec capital in Mexico. He also points out that the Toltec emperor at this time was white skinned with a beard! That the Toltec may have dominated Arizona and New Mexico is believed to be so by several researchers so Covey’s thesis is not all that far-fetched! Continue Reading
Mainstream archaeologists say that the ancient people’s of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico turned into cannibals and that brought the demise of their society. However, the Pueblo people (including the Hopi) find this assumption insulting and offensive and their own tribal archaeologist do NOT agree with mainstream academic archaeologist as to why the people of Chaco “abandoned” their great city. Instead, they speak of the people of Chaco moving north due to drought and poor harvests which, in my mind, is most likely TRUE! Two things you might want to keep in mind when it comes to SOME archaeologists of academia is that when they can’t explain something they pass it off as having something to due with religion. And if religion doesn’t fit the bill then there’s always cannibalism! Sloppy thinking and sloppy assumptions in my book!!
Tribal archaeologists listen to the oral traditions and stories of the tribal elders and from these they also draw on available archaeological evidence found at the site. From these they draw their own conclusions about as to why the people evacuated Chaco. The important thing here is that they include the oral traditions and stories of the tribal elders that have been passed down from generation to generation unlike mainstream researchers who tend to summarily pass off these oral stories as “superstition.”
When it comes to these ancient stories and oral traditions one thing that MUST be understood is that ancient teachers and wisdom keepers used metaphors and analogies in their stories as well as symbols. Symbolism was highly important in ancient teaching methods and what we must realize is that in ancient times MOST people hearing the stories told by the Wisdom Keepers understood what the symbols meant. Modern teachers today do not teach in that manner and that is one reason why modern scholars and common folk have a tendency to taking these oral stories literally. But, these oral stories were never intended to be taken literally and to understand them, to understand what these oral stories are telling us, we must begin to understand the symbolism used as well as the analogies and metaphors used by our Ancient Ones.
We can see this SAME PRINCIPLE closer to “home.” We see this same ancient teaching method in the Christian Bible! Consider the New Testament and especially the books pertaining to the “end of the world” such as Revelation. these passages are overflowing with symbolism, metaphor, and allegory! Stars, eagles, swords, warriors, shields, crowns, etc. These are NOT to be taken literally because they are SYMBOLS! And if we truly want to know the true meaning in these prophetic events we must begin to understand the symbolism employed. Perhaps I will address Biblical symbolism in a future post but for now this post pertains to ancient Native America symbolism, allegory, and metaphor.
For example, the Hopi speak of a past age in which the people living in that era used “flying shields” as a means of transport. The Hopi are NOT talking about giant leather shields flying through the air like “magic carpets”! Rather, they are referring to some sort of transport device used by the people of that era to get themselves around that resembled a shield. Maybe it was that the shape of this device was round. Maybe it was oblong. Maybe it was star-shaped. Not all shields are round! Maybe it was even shaped like a tube with wings resembling what we’d call today an airplane!! The Hopi use the term “flying shield” to describe this ancient transport device because a shield was the only thing they knew that they could use to describe this unknown device. Like all other people past and present they use what they knew to describe something they did not know and we do the same thing today. Continue Reading
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered…….America? Well kinda but not exactly. In fact, the more we discover the more it looks like the infamous explorer Columbus was somewhat of a late-comer to the Americas.
We know that those adventurous Vikings were in North America in Newfoundland long before Columbus and there is some speculation that they even sailed through the St Lawrence Seaway down into the Great Lakes and into Minnesota. Some researchers have even theorized that these brave souls even sailed down the Mississippi River and came into the Gulf of Mexico and possibly ended up on the coast of the Yucatan where their encounters with the Natives may not have ended well. But what about their trip back to Scandinavia?
Researchers have speculated that these Viking explorers and colonizers of the New World long before the arrival of Columbus may have taken a few Native American women along with them on their voyage back to Europe. This would have been about 500 years before Columbus returned to Spain with a few captive Native Americans.
We know that these Vikings set up colonies on the shores of North America around 1000 AD. What we don’t know is how a family in Iceland came to acquire a rather surprising genetic marker dating back to that time (1000 AD). That genetic marker is mostly found in Native Americans not Icelanders!
The first Native Americans actually arrived in Europe during the 11th century brought by the Vikings not Columbus. A genetic study led by deCODE Genetics which is a leading genome research lab in Iceland has discovered a unique genetic marker (gene) present in only 4 family lines in Iceland. The gene is named C1e and it is a mitochondrial gene passed down through a female mother. This suggests Native American women either voluntarily or involuntarily came back to Europe with Viking explorers and had children in their new home, Iceland. There are about 80 Icelanders presently who have this distinct genetic marker in their genes.
One problem with this theory is that the C1e genes may have come from some other part of the world and not necessarily from Native Americans. No living Native American population today has the exact DNA lineage as the one found in these 80 Icelanders BUT it may be a case in which those Native Americans brought to Iceland by Vikings simply went extinct which, in my opinion, is most likely the case. Continue Reading
At the Mesoamerican (Mayan) site known as the Temple of Warriors there are plenty of murals and on those murals are depicted not only native peoples but also non-native white skinned peoples. Question is, just who were these white people?
Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza, the Mayan capital
The murals I’m referring to are in the Temple of Warriors pyramid and some researchers are now suggesting that these white skinned people were none other than Norsemen, Vikings! Could it be possible?
Consider the Norsemen for a moment. They came from Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark) and they had a real talent for sailing the open seas in their long boats. We know they landed in Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. There is also evidence suggesting they navigated the St Lawrence Seaway and may have explored parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. On the other side of the world the Norsemen explored all over Europe and may even have made some expeditions into what is today the Middle East and Northern Africa. We also know that they sailed down the Volga and other mighty rivers in Russia all the way down to the Black Sea. In fact, Rurik who founded what is today Russia (it was called Kievan Rus) was a Viking and his people the Rus were Viking peoples! So is it possible that these sailing experts got to Mexico on some of their voyages? I think so! Additionally, there is some speculation that the Vikings also sailed down the Mississippi River in the US all the way down into the Gulf of Mexico. If so then the sea trip across the Gulf of Mexico from what is now New Orleans to the Yucatan would have been a piece of cake for the Norsemen.
Mayan mural in Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza. Notice the black, brown, and white skinned people and what appears to be a Viking long ship on the sea.
The Vikings may have gotten to Mexico at the time the Mayans were building the Temple of the Warriors or shortly thereafter. They could have been the “white lords” Mesoamerican legends refer to. These “white lords” came along before the coming of the Spanish and long before Columbus. In fact, on the flip-side there are not only Aztec and Mayan tales of “white lords” who came from the sea but there are Norse Sagas that bespeak of what MIGHT be Viking voyages to Mexico!
One of the Norse sagas is known as the Eyrbggia saga which mentions not only one but TWO possible Viking voyages to the Yucatan (Mayan country). This saga, some now claim, describes how one Bjorn (the name means “bear”) Breidovikingakappi (meaning “Bjorn the champion of the Broadwickers”) sailed around Ireland and somehow landed in Mexico. Further, there are three traditions in the Norse Sagas that say that in 965 AD and 986 AD one Ari Marson, another Viking, set sail from Ireland attempting to reach Greenland but ran into a storm and was thrown off course. He may have reached the coast of the Yucatan in Mexico six days later rather than Greenland. Continue Reading
When I was about 8 or 9 years old my brother and I were hunting with my father in an area southwest of Flagstaff, Arizona known as Sycamore Canyon. We’d finished hunting and were headed back home but we had to stop along the way for my father to relieve himself. A very large bald eagle was circling overhead as we stopped and while my father did his business my brother and I got out of the truck to watch the eagle. He was magnifient! I walked over to the other side of the dirt road near the base of what appeared to be a hill. I noticed a finely cut reddish stone protruding out of the dirt at the base of the hill and called my father and brother over to look at it. My father glanced at it and simply passed it off telling me, “Oh that’s just the foundation of some old pioneers house” and off we went back home. Well, even at my young age it certainly looked like something more than some old pioneers homestead foundation as the stone was perfectly cut, from what I could see of it, and polished. The reason I mention this story is because for decades now there have been rumors of an Aztec or Toltec pyramid located somewhere in Arizona but no one has ever found it. Even today I wonder if that stone might have been it. What was buried under that hill? Some old pioneers homestead or the legendary pyramid? I was young and do not know for certain where we were at the time other than we were leaving the Sycamore Canyon area and heading back to Flagstaff but someday I’m going back there to see if I can find the spot.
Here’s another story. South of Winslow, Arizona just past Sunset Pass where Highway 87 makes a southwestward turn and just before the turn off to Chavez Pass over on the east side of the highway behind a barbed wire fence used to sit a very large and obviously cut square piece of white stone. It was there for decades and I always thought is was out of place. The landscape behind this stone block was strewn with smaller white stones. Some appeared cut while others appeared cut off of larger junks. None of them were polished but they all were “in the ruff.” I always wanted to stop there when I was a boy and check it out because the whole site sure did look like some kind of ancient settlement to me! But, we never stopped and when I got older and was able to drive I went there once and found everything gone. All that remained were a few scattered pieces of white stone that looked like they’d been hacked off from larger pieces. The huge square cut stone was gone also and it was funny because outside of that location there were no such white stones at all. What happened to it all? Was it something natural or had there once been an ancient settlement there at one time built by some culture such as possibly the Aztec, Mayans, or Toltecs? And what happened to the big square cut stonework and the other cut stones in the area? Someone obviously whisked them away but who and why? Continue Reading