Pyramids In The Americas

This is a continuation of my blog on the pyramids of Egypt from yesterday’s blog and their comparison to remarkably similar pyramids in the Americas ….Far away across thousands of miles of oceans, the ancient cultures of the Maya, The Aztec and the Inca civilizations also erected pyramids for their god-king rulers…Between 300AD-900AD the Mayans flourished from the Yucatan in southern Mexico through much of Central America… How did knowledge of, how did the the very concept of erecting pyramids in honor of their god-kings ever occur to people who were separated by what was then a boundless ocean, over 6,000 nautical miles with no means of communication and no sailing vessels adequate to such a crossing?…

But in truth we have to go even farther back….In what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, the Mayan populations in the first centuries BC increased and began building monumental temples and tombs. The Mayas were the forerunner dominant civilization in their times, and they built many pyramids and monuments whose ruins are still in existence, and they too built pyramids, although their pyramids featured steps so people could watch as their priests ascended to the top of the pyramids to perform their sacred rites, which often consisted of killing slaves and prisoners of war….They lived and died and flourished and fought among themselves for thousands of years unknown to the Western world until the Spanish conquistadors discovered their existence…

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By the time the Spanish Conquistadors arrived, most of the large Mayan sites had been all but abandoned for hundreds of years. Most of their cities had fallen into ruin and were being overtaken by jungle. The Maya people had splintered into small villages and towns, losing the complex social strata and rituals that supported this great civilization at its apex. The Spanish colonization of the Maya officially began in 1521…

It took the Spanish 170 years and a number of expeditions to finally subjugate the Maya peoples, much longer than their campaigns against the Aztecs and Incas. Aiding in the Spanish conquest was the introduction of European diseases, which decimated Mayan populations since they had developed no immunity. The primary goal of the Conquistadors against the Mayas within the Americas, led by Francisco Cortez, was to locate vast quantities of gold and silver

As per my Google sources: “Both the Maya and the Egyptians constructed these enormous pyramids that in a way stand as memorials to their ancient civilizations. The Mayan built shrines, temples, and pyramids in honor of their gods, and their kings. Most of the Mayan pyramids were temples to the gods, the Maya did sometimes bury their rulers inside the pyramids, but the temple always remained on the top of the pyramid no matter what. Mayan pyramids were not only burial tombs like Egyptian pyramids, whose primary purpose was funerary, containing mortuary chambers but also served a more ceremonial function…

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Egyptians had temples also, but theirs would be somewhere near the pyramid or right next to it, for the ceremonial services, but it was never placed on top of the structure because Egypt’s pyramids come to a point at the top (The apex). Where as a Mayan pyramid was purposely constructed with a platform to have a temple and shrines built at the top of it. Also Mayan pyramids were not pyramidal (It had a polygonal base, but its four faces/sides did not meet at a common point).

The Mayans used most of their pyramids as a place for worship and sacrificial ritual to their gods, the reason (it is thought) the Egyptians didn’t use their pyramids in the same way, was because they needed their pharaoh to have a peaceful and successful afterlife, and performing rituals and ceremonies on or around his tomb would jeopardize that goal. Both civilizations positioned their pyramids in a specific way, for a specific reason.

The Egyptians lined up the pyramids almost exactly to a compass, and The Mayans pyramid were set up so that if you faced the front you would be looking south to see the path of the Jaguar, and the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. The pyramidal (pointy) pyramids of the Egyptian don’t look like the Mayan pyramids with staircases and a temple, but the early Egyptian step pyramid resembles them more, because of the whole pyramid looking like a staircase….

About 2,800 years ago, people known as the Maya lived in farming villages on the Yucatan Peninsula and the highlands to the south. From about AD 250 to A.D. 900, they built city-states in Central America that included great pyramid temples and public plazas featuring huge stone columns that recounted their history. Excavations at Tikal, Guatemala, one of the greatest and oldest Maya centers, have revealed thousands of structures and artifacts. The findings include temples, pyramids, ball-playing courts, stone monuments, tools, ceremonial objects, and a great many pottery fragments.

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The Aztec civilization, which emerged beginning in the 1200s, is considered the greatest of the civilizations that developed in Mesoamerica, the area extending from central Mexico to Honduras. Settling first on an island in Lake Texcoco, the Aztecs expanded their control to most of central Mexico. Like the Maya, the Aztec used a sacred calendar and a 365-day agricultural calendar.

The Aztec writing system was based on glyphs, symbols that stand for sounds or words. The few remaining Aztec books, called codices, provide rich depictions of Aztec legends, beliefs, and daily life. The Aztecs basically succeeded the Mayans, who were contemporaries, but there are many examples of Mayan pyramids and religious beliefs that connect them to the ancient Egyptians…

The Maya were far more advanced than the Aztec. The Maya knew advanced mathematics, and astronomy. The Aztec found the city of Teotihuacan abandoned and claimed it as their own. They did add on to it. The temple complex outside of Mexico City, containing the Avenue of the Dead, was built by an unknown civilization. The Aztec were only in power less than 150 years. Here are a few more Mayan artifacts and murals discovered inside their pyramid temples over the years….

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The only reason Spanish invaders defeated the Aztec was with the help of 100,000 native allies. The Aztec were brutal conquerors themselves, demanding tribute of slaves to be sacrificed. A Spanish account states that the Aztec sacrificed 20,000 slaves in a 4 or 5 day period. Each slave had their still beating heart cut out of their chest. Another reason for the Aztec military defeat was the style in which they fought. The Aztec way of war was to take captives to sacrifice to their gods. The Spanish way of war was like all Europeans, to kill immediately on the battlefield.

Because the Mayans did not bury their dead god-kings in their pyramids, there is relatively little evidence of their mummies in the pyramids themselves, although there are many, many artifacts well preserved inside the Mayan temples, and there are some examples of Mayan funeral rites and mummies in their nearby temples, as shown above…

Tomorrow we will explore the unique blend of savagery, cruelty and bloodletting that was the hallmark of the vicious and hated Aztec Empire, which the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez defeated, and we will further explore the mysterious links between the pyramid culture of the ancient Egyptians, the Mayans, the Aztecs, and the Incas in the Americas….

For more articles by John Whye, click on johnwhye@wordpress.com

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