Mexico: Maya tomb find could help explain collapse

Mexico: Maya tomb find could help explain collapse (AP)
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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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...

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.

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.

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. :)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jan 30, 2010
What was glorious in Mayan culture?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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