Teotihuacan is 75 m (246 ft) tall. However, the Acropolis encompasses many temples and pyramids, while Teotihuacan's pyramid is a single massive structure.
Emiliano Zapata, who was the foremost social revolutionary of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Allied with Pancho Villa's forces in the north, Zapata fought for a social transformation of Mexico, where the poor and dispossessed could achieve Tierra y Libertad (Land and Liberty). In the end, both Zapata and Villa were assassinated by former Revolutionary allies who didn't want to transform Mexico as much as they wanted to enjoy for themselves the fruits of the Revolution's victory. Many Mexicans, particularly the poor, have revered Zapata ever since. The EZLN burst upon the scene on January 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect. For a short period they seized and occupied San Cristóbal de las Casas before withdrawing to a number of what they describe as "autonomous communities." The Zapatista movement is deeply connected to Maya culture and social history and seeks to win autonomy and control over traditional lands and resources in Chiapas. They see themselves as part of the struggle against global corporate domination and the destruction of indigenous cultures. Opposing them are large landowners and their allies in the Mexican government. Some of these landowners are foreign corporations and some are Ladinos (wealthy non-Maya Mexicans). There have been sporadic outbursts of violence since 1994, mostly against the Zapatista communities. However, for a considerable time now, an uneasy truce has been maintained. During our visit, both Carole and I felt an underlying tension that we have not experienced anywhere else in Mexico. On the poster above, Emiliano Zapata is shown on the left, Cuban Revolutionary Che Guevara is in the center, and Subcomandante Marcos (leader of the Zapatistas) is on the right.
The Great Plaza
Ball Court 2
Recent discoveries of six snake head ball game markers buried in the nearby Temple of the Underworld have led Mexico's archaeologists to conclude that the ball court famously described in the Popul Vuh is in fact the one at Toniná.
sculpture kept in the Toniná museum. The man is naked except for a loin-cloth and earrings. His arms are bound behind him and there is also a rope across his thighs, He kneels on a large rectangular shield on which is inscribed his name, Chan-Maas, and the date of his capture. Another sculpture is of Sak B'alam, a noble of Palenque who was captured sometime between 688 and 699 AD. Almost certainly, both of these men were sacrificed. As recently as 2011, more sculptures of captives have been found just to the south of Ball Court 1. Two of those are especially well crafted, although who they actually represent is in dispute. Mexican archaeologists believe that the two were warriors from far-away Copan, in Honduras. In the Classic Era, a great superpower rivalry existed between the states of Tikal in modern-day Guatemala and Calakmul in modern Mexico's Yucatan. Each of these ancient superpowers had allies and client states, much like the United States and the old Soviet Union. In this complex struggle, Toniná was allied with Calakmul while Palenque was allied with Tikal. Tikal's ally Copan sent warriors all the way to Palenque to support that city-state in its struggle with Toniná. The fortunes of war and superpower politics led to the capture of these two Copan warriors. They were probably decapitated on the Altar of Sacrifices as a prelude to another of the games played in Ball Court 1.
Juan Yadeun, "serpents refer to the scepter of the rulers, considered lords of the maiz (corn), those who held the knowledge of the agricultural cycle, farming and harvest times, which only could be calculated by reading the sky."
the ball game had other functions. It was often associated with the celebration of major events such as military victories or the accession of a new ruler. There are also some reports of its use as a device for settling disputes. Finally, there is the basic human enjoyment of exciting spectacles and the desire by rulers to display their magnificence. Since nearly every ancient Maya city had at least one ball court, and some had several, the game was clearly a central cultural feature across the entire society.
very ancient roots. The earliest court yet discovered dates to 1400 BC. That was 2100 years before Ball Court 1 was dedicated. The game may have been invented by the Olmecs, sometimes called the "Mother of Cultures". The Olmec society, which existed between 1400 BC and 400 BC, developed many of the religious, cultural, and architectural features that were characteristic of Mesoamerican societies for 3000 years. These included not only the ball game, but stepped pyramids, ritual human sacrifice, and the worship of the plumed serpent god, called Kulkulkan by the Maya.
The player shown above is Toniná's most famous ruler, K'inich B'aaknal Chaak. I will examine this panel extensively in a future posting, but I include it here as an example of the equipment and protective gear used by players. Some of the items shown are of exaggerated size or were only used ceremonially. The ball shown on the right is much larger than the ones actually used. They ranged in size from a softball to a soccer ball and were made of a stone covered by hard rubber. Some of these balls have been found to weigh as much as 9 kg (20 lbs). The royal player above wears a protective yoke around his waist. These were ordinarily made of padded leather, but yokes used in ceremonies were often made of stone. The yoke was necessary because a player could be injured or even killed if struck in the abdomen by the heavy ball. The king's knees are protected by fringed pads strapped around his calves, and he wears high-backed sandals on his feet. The fluid energy and power of this wonderful carving shows it to be one of the Maya masterpieces.
This completes Part 15 of my Chiapas series. Next week, I will continue with at look at the various altars, temples, and palaces that make up the Acropolis. I always appreciate feedback and corrections, so if you would like to make a comment, please do so in the Comments section below, or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim