Mexico: Maya tomb find could help explain collapse

Jan 28, 2010 By MANUEL DE LA CRUZ , Associated Press Writer
A ceramic head found in a newly discovered tomb sits on display at the Mayan Tonina archeological site near Ocosingo village in Mexico's Chiapas state, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010. Archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology an History (INAH) announced they discovered in Dec. 2009 an ancient sarcophagus in a tomb dated 840-900 BC. (AP Photo/Miguel Tovar)

(AP) -- Mexican archaeologists have found an 1,100-year-old tomb from the twilight of the Maya civilization that they hope may shed light on what happened to the once-glorious culture.

Archaeologist Juan Yadeun said the tomb, and ceramics from another culture found in it, may reveal who occupied the Maya site of Tonina in southern Chiapas state after the culture's Classic period began fading.

Many experts have pointed to internal warfare between Mayan city states, or environmental degradation, as possible causes of the Maya's downfall starting around A.D. 820.

But Yadeun, who oversees the Tonina site for Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, said artifacts from the Toltec culture found in the tomb may point to another explanation. He said the tomb dates to between A.D. 840 and 900.

"It is clear that this is a new wave of occupation, the people who built this grave of the Toltec type," Yadeun said Wednesday. "This is very interesting, because we are going to see from the bones who these people are, after the Maya empire."

The Toltecs were from Mexico's central highlands and apparently expanded their influence to the Maya's strongholds in southern . They are believed to have dominated central Mexico from the city of Tula - just north of present-day Mexico City - between the 10th and 12th centuries, before the Aztecs rose to prominence.

Archaeologists not connected with the dig expressed caution about drawing conclusions from one site, noting the Maya empire covered a wide area, with a varied and complex history.

"One tomb, even if it is very fancy, isn't going to answer big things about the trajectory of Maya history all over the place ... maybe locally," said David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Susan Gillespie, an archaeologist at the University of Florida, said that "the whole idea of a migration of people from Tula to the Maya area has been abandoned."

The jungle-clad site is dotted with temples and platforms left by the classic Maya. The newly uncovered tomb - first detected during maintenance work in December, and later excavated and shown to reporters Wednesday - is dug into the earth at the foot of one of the older temples.

Inside, a stone bowl-type sarcophagus lies inside a narrow burrow, topped by a heavy stone lid. While such lids often bore inscriptions, this one does not; the Maya apparently began to abandon their elaborate writing system in the twilight of their culture.

Archaeologists also found a pottery urn and the bones of what they believe is a woman. Her skull appears to have been intentionally deformed, a practice common among the Maya. Physical anthropologists are now studying the bones, hoping to identify which group she came from.

The tomb does bear evidence that at least one other pre-Hispanic group took over the site after the collapse of the Maya.

The institute said the woman's bones were displaced by boiled bones in another pottery urn, apparently put there by Tzeltal chieftains sometime in the late 1400s, just before the Spanish conquest.

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marjon
1.4 / 5 (11) Jan 28, 2010
What was glorious in Mayan culture?
InsaniD
1.7 / 5 (3) Jan 28, 2010
What was glorious in Mayan culture?


Oh, I don't know - maybe those huge frakking pyramids they built for one?

Like to see you build one...
otto1923
4 / 5 (4) Jan 28, 2010
What was not pointless about marjons question?
marjon
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 28, 2010
What was glorious in Mayan culture?


Oh, I don't know - maybe those huge frakking pyramids they built for one?

Like to see you build one...

What did they do on top of the pyramid? How glorious is human sacrifice?
Simonsez
3.8 / 5 (9) Jan 28, 2010
Their knowledge of mathematics was advanced enough that other civilizations took centuries to catch up on our own. Your ability to pose ignorant questions in a worldwide information exchange, and your unused ability to google the answers to those questions, are directly related to these kinds of advanced mathematics.
Thrasymachus
2.4 / 5 (15) Jan 28, 2010
Virtually every ancient human culture engaged in ritual human sacrifice. Passing moral judgement on them does what, exactly? There's a lot that's very impressive about the Mayan culture, from their pyramids, to their art, to their calendar. And they managed to do all that without ever having invented the wheel too.
Simonsez
4.8 / 5 (4) Jan 28, 2010
And they managed to do all that without ever having invented the wheel too.


Ironically funny is that their calendar is in a wheel formation. :)
marjon
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 28, 2010
Didn't the Egyptians build more 'glorious' pyramids centuries earlier?
Why didn't any American civilization invent themselves out of the stone age? What was so 'glorious' about their stunted growth compared to the rest of the world?

I think the author should have chosen something other than 'glorious' to describe the Mayans.
Funky1
3.8 / 5 (4) Jan 28, 2010
Ignorance seems to be your topic - Marjon! What have you against the Maya race other than sacrifice? Also to answer your first question, The Mayan race is glorious because they are still here even after a savage attempt to wipe them out.
Thrasymachus
1.8 / 5 (13) Jan 29, 2010
The cradle of Western civilization in the Nile and Mesopotamian rive valleys had a few thousand year head start on Native American groups. It takes a long time to walk from Africa to Mexico, especially when you don't intend to end up anywhere in particular, just somewhere there's enough food.
MorituriMax
1 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
I'll tell you what happened to the Mayans. Their most famous and glorious engineer Stevaxopulca Jobsxancoszuca produced and distributed the MayaPad, thus dooming them.
Birger
4 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
The Mesoamerican and South American civilizations were a couple of millennia behind the Eurasian civilizations due to the relatively late development of agriculture (itself probably due to quirks of geography -it was hard for the various cultivation centra to "cross-fertilize" each other with ideas, inventions and domestications of animals.
Also, the ice-age megafauna was rendered extinct, leaving few large animals suitable for domestication.
This, in turn, doomed the indians in their contact with Europeans, since they had no "natural germ warfare" diseases contracted from animals. In Eurasia, many of the deadly diseases made the jump from various species of domesticated animals to humans, after which Eurasian farmers eventually developed a degree of resistance. Indians came in contact with these diseases for the first time, and those who were not massacred perished from disease.
The Europeans moving into the void left behind got no "native" diseases, apart from syphilis.
marjon
1 / 5 (7) Jan 29, 2010
Ignorance seems to be your topic - Marjon! What have you against the Maya race other than sacrifice? Also to answer your first question, The Mayan race is glorious because they are still here even after a savage attempt to wipe them out.

So are the Jews. I don't hear 'glorious' used to describe the Jews very often.
Funky1
3.8 / 5 (4) Jan 29, 2010
Fair enough, but Jesus was Jewish and if I'm correct Glorious is one of the terms used to describe him.

I beleive that the creation of Maize (Corn) is one really good reason to call the Mayas glorious or maybe the creation of the number zero. There are many choices if you take the time to educate yourself on the postive.
otto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 29, 2010
So are the Jews. I don't hear 'glorious' used to describe the Jews very often.
Really stretching for attention, eh? Youre not also a little bigoted are you?
1 Kings 10: Solomon's Glory
http://www.sweden...ng53.htm
Read your own stinking holybook-
frajo
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 29, 2010
History should not be exempted from ethical reasoning.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
History should not be exempted from ethical reasoning.
Why not pray tell?
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2010
History should not be exempted from ethical reasoning.
Why not pray tell?
Sorry, I don't understand the meaning of your sentence. I'm not a native speaker, you know. I only see that you are using the word "pray". What's that to do with ethics?
rgw
3.5 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2010
What was glorious in Mayan culture?

The Mayans did not have psychotic Islam, Christian, Jewish or Hindu beliefs and hatreds.
marjon
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2010
What was glorious in Mayan culture?

The Mayans did not have psychotic Islam, Christian, Jewish or Hindu beliefs and hatreds.

Too bad they did not or else they may still exist as an advanced culture.
Of course you completely disregarded the positive influence in your religious attack.
rgw
4 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2010
What was glorious in Mayan culture?

The Mayans did not have psychotic Islam, Christian, Jewish or Hindu beliefs and hatreds.

Too bad they did not or else they may still exist as an advanced culture.
Of course you completely disregarded the positive influence in your religious attack.

You misinterpret. There are many good people doing great works in any religion. This does not change the fact that all ancient religions are in the thrall of unadulterated evil.
The most bizarre thing about religion lies in the understanding that any human process becomes more corrupt the longer it lasts. No human organization lasts longer than the religious institutions. Evil is not excessivley intelligent. Evil relies on inertia. Evil excels at taking good moral rules and establishing endless, mindless slavery that lives on and on through institutionalized terror and oppression.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2010
It was a pun- an old british idiom. Just testing you. I just wondered why you dont think morals cant be understood in context? God forgave Lot and his daughters because they genuinely believed they were the last of their kind. Nothing is taboo when it comes to the survival of god. EVERY evil is sanctioned in the bible (and the koran) in the name of god.
marjon
1.5 / 5 (8) Jan 30, 2010
You misinterpret. There are many good people doing great works in any religion. This does not change the fact that all ancient religions are in the thrall of unadulterated evil.

Including the Mayan's ancient religion then?

How about all the aid, money and time, donated by those evil ancient Christean, Jewish and Muslim religions? Especially now in Haiti.
marjon
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2010
It was a pun- an old british idiom. Just testing you. I just wondered why you dont think morals cant be understood in context? God forgave Lot and his daughters because they genuinely believed they were the last of their kind. Nothing is taboo when it comes to the survival of god. EVERY evil is sanctioned in the bible (and the koran) in the name of god.

It's called moral relativism. How do you define evil if all is relative?
Thrasymachus
1.7 / 5 (11) Jan 31, 2010
There are many perfectly adequate theories of ethics that require no notion of any god or divinity to make them work. But the point of all ethics is fundamentally personal: to guide one's own choices. There is no point in applying them to others, except as an example to guide one's own behavior. Laws and social codes that are punitively enforced are best and only justified pragmatically, not ethically.
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2010
marjon - mayan civilization was definately glorious, as was ancient rome, egypt, greece and all the other great cevilizations of the past. Look up the definition of glorious, if you dont know what the word means - it means great or famous, which mayan civilization was.

Tell us, which civilization do you consider glorious, because every one of them has done horrible things in the past.
marjon
2 / 5 (4) Jan 31, 2010
There are many perfectly adequate theories of ethics that require no notion of any god or divinity to make them work. But the point of all ethics is fundamentally personal: to guide one's own choices. There is no point in applying them to others, except as an example to guide one's own behavior. Laws and social codes that are punitively enforced are best and only justified pragmatically, not ethically.

If you are defending Otto, how is evil determined from personal ethics?
Thrasymachus
1.5 / 5 (11) Jan 31, 2010
Marjon, you're trolling, and as that guy from South Carolina said about poor people, if you feed 'em they breed.

Science, and this includes history and anthropology, simply have nothing to do with ethics. Science is a systematic and empirical attempt to explain why the world is the way it is and to chart its possibilities for the future. Ethics is a systematic and a priori attempt to justify the world as it ought to be, often without any notion of whether such a state is physically possible. Good and evil are not empirical measures, and science has nothing to do with them.
marjon
1.8 / 5 (5) Jan 31, 2010
I'm trolling?
Just testing you. I just wondered why you dont think morals cant be understood in context? God forgave Lot and his daughters because they genuinely believed they were the last of their kind. Nothing is taboo when it comes to the survival of god. EVERY evil is sanctioned in the bible (and the koran) in the name of god.

I was asking how moral relativists like Otto define evil.
Also, if this is a science blog, is 'glorious' an appropriate scientific term? That was the point of my initial comment.
OckhamsRazor
3 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2010
marjon - So you changed to some more substantial argument after your initial comments which very much read as trolling. Glorious is perfectly legitimate English, and is adequate at the very least to describe a civilisation that built some amazing buildings and left some interesting artifacts behind for us to study.

And nothing gives you much right to judge their beliefs when it very much sounds like you have your own feet in a pot of Puritan soil. So they killed a few people to appease their Gods - is that any different to what socially acceptable religions like Christianity have done over the centuries when they waged war to uphold their beliefs?
marjon
1.6 / 5 (5) Jan 31, 2010
marjon - So you changed to some more substantial argument after your initial comments which very much read as trolling. Glorious is perfectly legitimate English, and is adequate at the very least to describe a civilisation that built some amazing buildings and left some interesting artifacts behind for us to study.

And nothing gives you much right to judge their beliefs when it very much sounds like you have your own feet in a pot of Puritan soil. So they killed a few people to appease their Gods - is that any different to what socially acceptable religions like Christianity have done over the centuries when they waged war to uphold their beliefs?

Just recall it was the Puritans who waged war against slavery in the UK and in the USA. And won.
I still don't know what is evil to a moral relativist.
otto1923
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2010
Otto says:
Right and wrong, good and bad, are whatever Those Who Are in Charge say they are at any given point in time, for any given people, in any given region. "Everything is beautiful IN ITS OWN TIME." -Ecclesiastes, the Path to Empire. Your god, the god They invented, is a moral relativist. He sanctioned the breaking of every one of his commandments as long as it was in his name. This gives our Shepherds a Whole lot of leeway.
Otto says these things because he's pretty sure they're true.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2010
I would laugh knowingly if they 'discovered' that mayan culture ended due to Eurasian diseases. I suppose they have found no evidence which indicates this, or evidence that it's not true? Many Mayan corpses with no indication of plague, smallpox, influenza, etc?I suppose this question is easily answered. Any ideas?
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2010
marjon - So you changed to some more substantial argument after your initial comments which very much read as trolling. Glorious is perfectly legitimate English, and is adequate at the very least to describe a civilisation that built some amazing buildings and left some interesting artifacts behind for us to study.

And nothing gives you much right to judge their beliefs when it very much sounds like you have your own feet in a pot of Puritan soil. So they killed a few people to appease their Gods - is that any different to what socially acceptable religions like Christianity have done over the centuries when they waged war to uphold their beliefs?

Just recall it was the Puritans who waged war against slavery in the UK and in the USA. And won.
I still don't know what is evil to a moral relativist.
Trolls quote entire comments because they're too lazy to edit.
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2010
Those who violate any of the 7 deadly sins are courting with absolute evil. Two that come to mind are Sloth and Gluttony. Body's a temple- trashing it is an affront to the god who gave it to you. A Sin.
OckhamsRazor
2 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2010
I'm Atheist, so I don't believe in "evil" or "holy" just good and bad. Sin is only sin if you believe in some form of religious dogma. If I were religious, I'd agree with your definition, Otto. I guess that's why they established the 7 deadly sins?

In any case though, I doubt the Mayans came even close to committing any moral sins simply because their religion dictated that sacrifice and the like were acceptable.

otto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2010
"The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of the most objectionable vices which has been used since early Catholic times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man's tendency to sin. The final version of the list consists of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony."
-I think one thing we can all agree on, from all that science has told us, is that we don't have a lot of time as a species. We're targets, weak any ignorant on a small planet in a hostile universe. These 7 sins are the things which degrade us as a species and befoul our efforts to learn, retain that knowledge, and act upon it. Nature will quickly remove animals which exhibit these failings, and I think we are tempted to stray in order that we may also be culled. Waste is wrong, waste is evil, waste propagates. We have little time to waste and no time to recover lost knowledge because of these failings.
otto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2010
They're not religious (and neither am I- Otto is enemy of religion!); they're disfunction, pathology. They have no place in the future. And if they rule your life then neither will you, most likely. That's the message I get from what I see in the world today. If it is being run (it is) and we are being domesticated (we have been and are) then this involves a rarifaction, the separation of those who can control their urges from those who can't. Wheat from chaff- tempt us, throw us up into the air and see who blows away. The church used to make it easy to tow the line when we were in the growth-and-colonize phase, but that support has been removed and we are now being tested left and right.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2010
The most bizarre thing about religion lies in the understanding that any human process becomes more corrupt the longer it lasts.
Are you talking about human processes in general or religious human processes? In the general case the contrary is true: the processes of scientific thinking have been becoming more and more elaborate since their inception in ancient Greece.
No human organization lasts longer than the religious institutions.
Depends how you define "institution". The Greek drachma has been in use for more than 3 millennia; China exists as political entity at least 2200 years.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2010
EVERY evil is sanctioned in the bible (and the koran) in the name of god.
Maybe. But that's no sufficient reason to do the same.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2010
But the point of all ethics is fundamentally personal: to guide one's own choices.
It's not the only point. Another ethical topic is setting up criteria to "measure" all those diverging personal moralities. Ranking different moralities is not difficult.
There is no point in applying them to others, except as an example to guide one's own behavior.
It's not necessary to apply one's own morality to other people. Because the world would be fundamentally different if each one would be measured by his own standards. How about X-ing the proponents of X-ture?
There is, though, a decisive point in comparing and ranking one's own morality and those of the others.
Because, for instance, justice, protection of the innocent, social peace are criteria which impact the dynamics and longevity of each society. A cruel and injust society is a doomed society as history shows.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2010
Look up the definition of glorious, if you dont know what the word means - it means great or famous, which mayan civilization was.
To be precise, the Latin word "gloria" had several meanings of which you mention only the most common. Another meaning was that of vainglory.
Tell us, which civilization do you consider glorious, because every one of them has done horrible things in the past.
To dismiss indifferently every historical responsibility implies that the misdeeds of the present time won't be measured historically. And this implies that there's no reason to object to injustice and cruelty.
This POV has a certain smell about it which stems from the rhetorical vicinity to those who profit from injustice and cruelty.
frajo
1 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2010
Glorious is perfectly legitimate English, and is adequate at the very least to describe a civilisation that built some amazing buildings and left some interesting artifacts behind for us to study.
You don't answer the question why a society should be measured by its positive achievements only while neglecting its negative "achievements".
frajo
1 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2010
I'm Atheist,
...
I doubt the Mayans came even close to committing any moral sins simply because their religion dictated that sacrifice and the like were acceptable.
First you claim to be an atheist, then you speak about "sins". Why don't you speak about "social failure"?
Or don't you consider an ideology which calls for "sacrificing" (i.e. killing) innocent people a marker of social failure?

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