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Thighbones Were Scepters For Ancient Zapotec Men? - MITLA RUINS

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Author Topic: Thighbones Were Scepters For Ancient Zapotec Men? - MITLA RUINS  (Read 1823 times)
Bianca
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« on: July 15, 2009, 06:25:56 pm »








A Zapotec ruler holds a human femur in a stone carving at the site of Lambityeco in Mexico's Valley of Oaxaca. In this case, art may have been imitating life.

New grave excavations suggest Zapotec men, both elites and commoners, brandished ancestral femurs as symbols of power, researchers said in July 2009.

National Geographic
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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2009, 06:32:27 pm »












                                       Thighbones Were Scepters for Ancient Zapotec Men?






Charles Q. Choi
for National Geographic News
July 15, 2009

For men of the ancient Zapotec civilization, ancestral thighbones may have been carried as status symbols.

Based on centuries-old stone carvings in southern Mexico, archaeologists had long suspected that Zapotec men brandished human femurs.
 
"The thought was that the femurs are those of the ancestors of the rulers, serving like staffs of office or symbols of legitimacy," explained archaeologist Gary Feinman of the Field Museum in Chicago.

Now grave excavations have confirmed the practice, according to a new study. What's more, it seems that commoners got a leg up too.

Flourishing from about 500 B.C. to A.D. 1000 in the Valley of Oaxaca, the Zapotec were contemporaries of the ancient Maya and Aztec. (See "Zapotec Digs in Mexico Show Clues to Rise and Fall.")

Prior excavations had revealed a Zapotec tomb where nine femurs were missing. But the skeletons were a bit of a jumble, so it wasn't clear whether the bones had been taken or had simply gone missing.
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2009, 06:33:42 pm »










Theory No Longer Out on a Limb



The Zapotec often kept their dead relatives close to home—sometimes even at home.

At a dig earlier this year at a fortress near the ancient town of San Pablo Villa de Mitla (map), Feinman and colleagues discovered an adobe-lined storage pit underneath an excavated house.

Inside was an adult male skeleton that was virtually intact, save for a missing right femur.

"This find is fantastic—it corroborates what was inferred before," said archaeologist Javier Urcid of Brandeis University, who did not participate in the new study.
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2009, 06:36:32 pm »








Populist Power Symbol?



There are signs that the circa-A.D. 500 pit had been opened and then resealed about 25 to 100 years after the initial burial. Since the house appears to have been occupied continuously during this time, whoever reopened the pit was probably a relative, the researchers suggest.

"I believe removal of the femur from a male was one way the ancient Zapotec asserted dynastic continuity," said archaeologist Joyce Marcus at the University of Michigan, who did not participate in this study.

"It seems likely that each firstborn son was expected to brandish the femur of his father. The removal and curation of a femur signified that an unbroken line of descent extended from the founder to his descendants."

The newfound burial was simple and modest, suggesting the buried man was not an elite, although he might have been the head of a household, Feinman suggested.

"It raises the question as to whether femurs were used as a broader symbol of legitimacy that anyone with even a little bit of power held onto."



National Geographic
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2009, 06:48:56 pm »





               

               Map To Mitla Archaeological Ruins

              San Pablo Villa de Mitla,
              Oaxaca, Mexico.










Mitla was occupied until the 16th century when the Spaniards destroyed or dismantled an Indian building in order to use the foundation and many of the cut bricks from the original city to build a cathedral. What we now call the Town of Mitla or San Pablo Villa de Mitla, grew up around the ruins (and cathedral), which makes an interesting contrast between a once beautiful and great city in ruins and the current city, which has never regained the stature of the pre-Spanish era. If you have the time, this is the number two (after Monte Alban) must see site near Oaxaca.

Mitla is located at an elevation of 4,855 feet (1,480 meters) and 24 miles (38 k) from the city of Oaxaca on Federal Highway 190 (Oaxaca-Tehuantepec). The archaeological site is located in the center of town at the corner of Calle Benito Juarez and Avenida Juarez. The ruins of Mitla are one of Mexico's most interesting sacred places. Evidence shows that the site was occupied from about 900 B.C. Mitla's visible structural remains date from about 200 A.D. to 900 A.D. when the Zapotecs were ruling the area. from 1000 AD when the Mixtecs took control of the site, and from 1200 AD (some sources say 1500), when the Zapotecs were back in control.

Mitla was the second most important ceremonial center after Monte Alban. The name Mitla or Mictlan is of Nahuatl origin and means "Place of the Dead" or "Inframundo". In Zapotec it is called "Lyobaa", which means "Burial Place", and in Mexico it became known as Mictlan, "Place of the Dead" which is shortened in Spanish to Mitla. The archaeological site and town itself are Zapotec. Mitla was inhabited in the Classic Period (100-650 DC), with its greatest growth and height in the Post Classic period (750-1521 DC).

The most unique feature of Mitla is the rich variety of mosaic tile that are displayed throughout the site's different buildings. This achievement is also due to a system of columns, that sets it apart from the rest of Mexicos archaeological zones. The nearby ruins of Yagul show some of these characteristics, however they are not as well made as at Mitla.

The archaeological zone of Mitla includes five main groups of structures, and by the beginning of the Christian era the town stretched for more than two thirds of a mile along either side of the Mitla river. There are five different groups of buildings, known as: Southern Group, Clay Group, Creek Group, Columns Group and Church Group. The first two have been classified as ceremonial centers, formed by the presence of mounds and central squares. The last three are classified as palaces, comprised by several chambers, set around square yards. From these five groups, the best two are the Columns Group and the Church Group.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 07:19:05 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2009, 06:50:19 pm »










The photographs below show part of the "Hall of Columns" and the entrance to the main sanctuary (no one knows what these structures were called by their builders; the name "Hall of Columns" comes from the first Spanish explorers who visited the site). This hall, 120 x 21 feet in size, has six monolithic columns of volcanic stone that originally supported a roof covering the entire hall. The darkened doorway leads through a low and narrow passageway to the interior of another enclosure, now roofless, but also covered in ancient times. This chamber is one of the most astonishing artistic artifacts of pre-Columbian America. Its walls are covered with panels of inlaid cut-stone mosaic known as stepped-fret design. The motif of these intricate geometric mosaics are believed to be a stylized representation of the Sky Serpent and therefore a symbol of the pan-regional Mesoamerican deity, Quetzalcoatl. Archaeologists are mystified regarding the use of this chamber. An early Spanish explorer, named Canseco, who visited Mitla in 1580, wrote of the Hall of Columns, "In this building they had their idols, and it was where they assembled for religious purposes, to make sacrifices to their idols, and to perform heathen rites". Regarding the interior chamber, Canseco says it was the residence of the high priest. The oldest information we have about the chamber however, and possibly the most revealing, is a legend that says the chamber was used for the final initiation of shamans who had been trained in magic and healing in the school of Mitla. In the "Patio of Tombs", adjacent to the Hall of Columns, is a 2.8 meter tall column known as the "Pillar of Death". Legend says that if you hold your arms around this pillar and feel it move, then your death is immanent. The "Pillar of Death" is now blocked off so that you can not touch it or try to see if it can tell your future. In 1982, George tried it out and found that he had a few more years to live. Some books call this pillar, "The Pillar of Life." George likes that name better, too!

The most characteristic architecture in Mitla is the group of the columns, where we find the Great House of Pezelao, generally considered to be the most beautiful archaeological site in the Americas. The group contains two squares. The northern one is bordered by platforms on all four side. The main building is in the northern part. In the central patio there are vestiges of an altar. Its is made of talud, formed by two bands raised over the base, the panel and the cornice. The great Hall of Columns is rectangular. You pass through this hallway to enter the main palace which is behind a narrow door. Leaving this passageway we find the decorated patio, which provides access to each of the four salons. Each is decorated by three panels with ornate mosaics of carved stone which forms different geometric designs in each band. The panels contain thousands of polished stones, which are cut to fit without mortar.

The most beautiful tombs are located in the northern and eastern buildings, where the Zapotec priests and kings were buried. In the first, in front of the stairs, is the entrance to a cruciform tomb, with antechamber. The ceiling has large single stone dinteles and the walls are decorated with ornate mosaic panels. The eastern is characterized by a monolithic stone column that supports the ceiling.

Mitla is the fabled home of Mictlantecuhtle, Lord of The Underworld.

In the Seventeenth Century, the Church Of San Paublo was built upon the Mitla Courtyard C and the church was constructed of stone from the Prehispanic Mitla Temples. This practice was followed throughout all of Mexico to impose Catholic beleifs upon the local people, until 1850 when Benito Juarez passed the Ecclesiastical Real Estate Nationalization Law which put an end to this practice.

If you are driving out to to Mitla, you will pass the town of Santa Maria del Tule with its famous Arbol del Tule (tree of Tule) in the chuchyard. This mighty tree, having a circumference of over 160 feet at its base, is between 2000 and 3000 years old, making it one of the oldest living things on earth. It only takes a few minutes to visit and it is certainly worth the short visit.
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2009, 06:51:45 pm »



             

             The Church Is At The West End. Hall Of Six Columns Is In Center.
             Eastern Group At Bottom Left.
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2009, 06:55:12 pm »




             

             The San Pablo Mitla Church, And Mitla "Church Group" Of Ruins.
             Entering The Site From The North East
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 06:56:26 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2009, 06:57:49 pm »



             

             The San Pablo Mitla Church, And Mitla "Church Group" Of Ruins.
             Entering The Site From The North East
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 06:58:55 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2009, 07:00:30 pm »

             
             
              "Church Group" Looking West                                   Inside "Church Group" Court Yard
                           
             
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 07:10:22 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2009, 07:15:01 pm »




http://www.delange.org/Mitla/Dsc00179.jpg
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