The History of Chiapas

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"The earliest Maya

The Popol Vuh, the great epic of the Quiche Maya, recounts that the forefather gods, Tepeu and Gucumatz, brought forth the earth from a watery void, and endowed it with animals and plants. Anxious for praise and veneration after the creation, the divine progenitors fashioned man-like creatures from mud, but to mud they returned. Next a race of wooden figures appeared, but the mindless manikins were destroyed by the gods, to be replaced by men made from flesh. These, however, turned to wickedness and were annihilated as black rains fell and a great flood swept the earth. Finally true men, the ancestors of the Quiche, were created from maize dough."

From The Maya by Michael D Coe, 1987, Thames and Hudson, New York

"Early Formative in Chiapas

Knowledge of the Early Formative is relatively recent; it began in the 1950’s with the interest of the New World Archaeological Foundation in Chiapa de Corzo. Excavations in that site, lying in the center of the Grijalva Depression of Chiapas, have disclosed no less than eighteen successive occupations from the earliest times to the present.

As reconstructed from debris recovered deep in a test pit, the Ihiapa I, or Cotorra, phase presents us with the very beginnings of Formative life. A single radiocarbon date falls in the thirteenth century BC, but the total span of the culture is estimated to be about 1500 to 1000 BC. Admittedly we have only a fragmentary picture of the first farmers at Chiapa de Corzo, but they prepared their maize on simple milling stones which are heavily worn and thus must have been rare, and they manufactured solid, handmade clay figurines. Their pottery was advanced in technique and quite sophisticated in form and decoration."

From Mexico by Michael D Coe,1986, Thames and Hudson, New York

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cultivation. Hieroglyphic texts in great quantity were sculpted in stone and stucco, painted on pottery and plaster, and inked on long strips of paper that were folded like screens to make books."

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"In the lowland rain forest, such Mayan cities as Palenque, Tikal, and Caracol rose to their greatest glory...[during the Late Classic Period (A.D. 600-900)]"

From Popol Vuh, translated by Dennis Tedlock,1996, Touchstone, New York
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"As unique and spectacular as Greek or Roman architecture, Maya architecture spans many thousands of years; yet, often the most dramatic and easily recognizable as Maya are the fantastic stepped pyramids from the Terminal Pre-classic period and beyond."image

"Though city layouts evolved as nature dictated, careful attention was placed on the directional orientation of temples and observatories so that they were constructed in accordance with Maya interpretation of the orbits of the heavenly bodies.

The Maya were keen astronomers and had mapped out the phases of celestial objects, especially the Moon and Venus. Many temples have doorways and other features aligning to celestial events.
They produced extremely accurate astronomical observations; their charts of the movements of the moon and planets are equal or superior to those of any other civilization working from naked eye observation. Venus was the most important astronomical object to the Maya, even more important to them than the sun."

wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization#Classic

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Just like any Internet Cafe today!

"Scribes held a prominent position in Maya courts. Maya art often depicts rulers with trappings indicating they were scribes or at least able to write, such as having pen bundles in their headdresses. Additionally, many rulers have been found in conjunction with writing tools such as shell or clay inkpots."

"The earliest inscriptions in an identifiably-Maya script date back to 200–300 BC. However, this is preceded by several other writing systems which had developed in Mesoamerica, most notably that of the Zapotecs, and (following the 2006 publication of research on the recently-discovered Cascajal Block), the Olmecs.

In the succeeding centuries the Maya developed their script into a form which was far more complete and complex than any other that has yet been found in the Americas."

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Many consider Maya art of their Classic Era (c.250 to 900 AD) to be the most sophisticated and beautiful of the ancient New World. The carvings and the reliefs made of stucco at Palenque and the statuary of Copán are especially fine, showing a grace and accurate observation of the human form that reminded early archaeologists of Classical civilizations of the Old World, hence the name bestowed on this era.

image A beautiful turquoise blue color that has survived through the centuries due to its unique chemical characteristics is known as Maya Blue or Azul Maya, and it is present in Bonampak...The use of Maya Blue survived until the 16th century when the technique was lost."

wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization #Classic

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"By A.D. 900, the political and economic strength of the larger city-states had broken under the strain. (See Mayan Collapse page.) From that time until the European invasion, the remaining inhabitants of the rain forest lived in smaller towns along the shores of lakes, rivers, and estuaries.


The European invasion of the Mayan world began during the sixteenthcentury, and so did a long history of Mayan resistance that continues right down to the broadcast news of our own day. Backed by means of persuasion that included gunpowder, instruments of torture, and the threat of eternal damnation, the invaders established a monopoly on virtually all major forms of visible public expression, whether in drama, architecture, sculpture, painting, or writing."

From Popol Vuh, translated by Dennis Tedlock,1996, Touchstone, New York