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avidovid t1_j3f2anf wrote

The Spanish did the world an enormous disservice by burning the records of the Maya, Aztec, and Inca civilizations, among others. These civilizations knew some serious stuff about agriculture and astronomy, it would be marvelous to better understand the genesis of their knowledge and society.


Xciccor t1_j3fz6q7 wrote

Incas were not writing at this point. They had a knot system.

To remind people who are what, Aztecs (Mexico now) were North American in today's term, Maya were also North American, bordering Central America (Yucatán peninsula in Mexico) and the Incas were all the way down in South America in Peru.

Meso American is a weird term that does describe the Aztecs and Mayan people... Historically. But, not the Incas and it doesn't really give you the full picture of what we consider to be located where today--which makes people confused about the differences between the three.

Another quick distinction is that Peru has some extremely old cultures that most likely are the far past ancestral peoples of the Incas (with some cultures being a whopping 5000 years old at Caral), but the Incan Empire itself at its height only lasted about a century before being met with the Spaniards and disease.

Kinda same goes for the Aztecs whose ancestral people were influenced by the ancient Mayans (whose archaic age was 4000 yrs ago), though Mayans themselves also stuck around. Anyway, the Aztecs at their height only lasted about a century as well before the Spaniards and disease.

Mayans were really the older culture out of the three that at least seems to exist as a singular cultural entity between the Incas and Aztecs in archaeological records, their cities seem to have been around for millennia. But unlike the Aztecs, the Mayans had their heyday in the past and were a shadow of their former self in comparison to the newly invigorated and growing Aztec and Incan neighbours.


timesarewasting t1_j42dzfb wrote

For people whose records were massively destroyed and deliberately, you claim to know a lot.

We barely understand the complexity of history of these people. All these statements like, their Empire lasted just a century before Spanish came, is certainly false.

Their complex and advanced civilizations are lost in the mist of time


WyrdHarper t1_j3fxmzk wrote

And a lot that did get preserved just got held in private collections or sent to the Vatican where they’ve been locked away (at least some like the Codex Borgia have been scanned and are now publicly available digitally).


VagueSomething t1_j3g5toq wrote

The Vatican hiding such valuable historical information and artifacts should be considered a crime against humanity.


PiscatorLager t1_j3gnvr4 wrote

Isn't basically everything the Vatican does a crime against humanity?


VagueSomething t1_j3gozal wrote

The list of evil and bad they're involved in is long but people tend to forget about how they're hiding human history that may have vital details to widen our understanding of many things.


spkdanknugs t1_j3gpurt wrote

The Smithsonian and British History Museum do this as well.


taversham t1_j3gy6tq wrote

The British Museum has already digitised and made accessible nearly 4.5 million of the 8 million objects in its collection, and the project is continuing. I don't think that's really hiding it.


Whiterabbit-- t1_j3g5tgb wrote

> Scientists had suspected that the calendar, which is tied to cycles of maize agriculture and human reproduction ...

OK. can someone explain to me why maize and human reproduction is on a 260 day calendar?


WanderingAnchorite t1_j3gfpc6 wrote

I have done zero research but here's my guess.

Modern pregnancy lasts 280 days.

Malnutrition and other lifestyle factors shorten that, so a 260-day gestation may have been standard, at the time and in that place.

The corn part, I imagine, is actually broken down into three cycles of just over 86 days, which is right around how long corn takes to go from seed to harvest: so each year allowed for three cycles of crop, because they were in the tropics, where you can grow all year.

It's also important to understand that this idea of "day" is different, in cultures who use multiple calendars - the Chinese and the Jewish are known for using both a solar and a lunar calendar, which don't sync up, but are used together to understand one's position in time.

I'd guess that's more how this calendar worked, as it was more about seasons than it was about the length of a day, because it's not like you'd have a 260-day year that resulted in 33-hour days: you can't change the earth's rotation any more than you can the position of the moon and stars.

So the functional day was still 24-hours-ish, but then there was another calendar used for rituals, planting, etc.: basically every civilization makes calendars to figure out when floods come.

Floods bring fertility to the soil, allowing it to produce - that's why all major civilizations originate in flood plains - it's why, once you figure out the flood cycle, complex language and temporality emerge very quickly.

Humans are already familiar with cyclic floods in our own, everywhere we exist, from pre-history: we saw that people producing children also seemed to have a cycle and it gets kinda'...wet.

Women's menstrual cycle has been referred to as a "flood" in many cultures, throughout history, strengthening this connection, with the time of menstruation also called a "moon," in many cultures, strengthening that connection, as well.

In ancient Rome, the owning couple was required to have sex in any newly-anointed agricultural field, to ensure productivity.

Connections between sex and agriculture exist in nearly every culture.

So my guess is that the Mesoamericans were birthing slightly malnourished children slightly premature, and it was the standard at the time, while also bringing in a corn crop three times a year (let's call them "trimesters" wink wink).


searucraeft t1_j3gxr6x wrote

This doesn't exactly read like a comment with zero research tied to it. Thanks for it! Very interesting take.


Braincoater t1_j3hd44s wrote

Awesome read. Egyptian pharaohs would ejaculate on the Nile to ensure a good harvest every year.


tyco_brahe t1_j3i81im wrote

This is really interesting, and I think you hit the nail on the head with the human gestation period.

It might not even be mal-nutrition. If you count from the first missed period, you get around 36 weeks / 9 months / 252 days. It's completely possible for the 260 days to be what they observed from the first indication of pregnancy (missed period) to birth and it doesn't require mal-nutrition or premature birth.


Fluffy_Town t1_j3kvgri wrote

You've also got a pregnant lady whose water breaks just before birth.


WanderingAnchorite t1_j3lb3co wrote

That's also true!

I think a lot of this stuff makes the origins of religions much more understandable.

You see people try to justify the historical reality of "the great flood" by saying how every culture on Earth has a story about an ancient great flood.

Almost like maybe there was no massive flood and we were all just surrounded by the same basic conditions, leading us to similar conclusions.

It's like how every culture independently creates some form of flatbread: that doesn't make the bread divine (though, historically, many people associate bread and the divine - Yahweh rained bread down from Heaven, etc.).

Or how the universe was created by Hera, spilling her breastmilk, creating the stars in the sky: that's why we call The Milky Way...The Milky Way.

The Chinese actually call it "The Silver River," to this day, because they didn't have the same origin story for it.

OK, I gotta' stop...I'd be the worst history teacher...I'd be the guy that kids are like "Just ask any question, then let him go..." hahaha


Fluffy_Town t1_j3mjzvk wrote

>It's like how every culture independently creates some form of flatbread: that doesn't make the bread divine (though, historically, many people associate bread and the divine - Yahweh rained bread down from Heaven, etc.).

I watched this cooking show on Netflix and apparently there's a lot of dumpling recipes throughout the world that have different names but are essentially the same thing.

>OK, I gotta' stop...I'd be the worst history teacher...I'd be the guy that kids are like "Just ask any question, then let him go..." hahaha

...or the opposite is true. Your passion for the subject comes through the screen. Teachers with passion inspire students to become great.


4x4is16Legs t1_j3kmsdp wrote

Thoughtful and interesting for Zero research. You’re very brilliant. I hope it’s all accurate and you get everything you need in life 😍


jpastore t1_j3i8mwe wrote

You have some amazing guesses for no knowledge LOL


quarktothemax t1_j3gfxod wrote

I don’t know about maize, but that’s around how long it takes to gestate a baby, especially if you count from the missed period.


Gloomy_Possession-69 t1_j3gnzk9 wrote

Don't forget the human menstrual cycle is quite regular as well. Could have been around 26 days so it would cover two "glyphs" which seems to be like months.


marketrent OP t1_j3eeire wrote

Finding in title is quoted from the abstract in the research paper,

>The orientations of complexes built between 1100 and 750 BCE, in particular, represent the earliest evidence of the use of the 260-day calendar, centuries earlier than its previously known use in textual records.

... and from the linked content by Brian Handwerk, 6 Jan. 2023:

>Newly uncovered ruins along Mexico’s southern Gulf Coast appear to have been designed in alignment with the ancient timekeeping system.

>Aerial surveys using lidar technology revealed that hundreds of architectural complexes were aligned to facilitate timed observations of the rising and setting sun, moon and other celestial objects in line with this 260-day cycle.

>Scientists had suspected that the calendar, which is tied to cycles of maize agriculture and human reproduction, dated back this far.

>But the earliest documented evidence for its use was a glyph depicting “7 Deer,” one of the days in the calendar, as part of a third-century B.C.E. mural in Guatemala.


>Since these cultures didn’t leave written records from earlier periods, scientists have found it exceedingly difficult to establish proof of prior calendar use—until this new large-scale discovery.

>These monumental assemblages of plazas, pyramids and platforms, some stretching more than half a mile, indicate the 260-day cycle was likely of central importance to the Olmec, Maya and other cultures since at least the key period of time around 1000 B.C.E.—when more widespread maize agriculture began to take hold in the region.

>“It is obvious that the orientations reflect a complex worldview in which astronomical knowledge conditioned by practical concerns was intertwined with religious concepts,” says co-author Ivan Šprajc, who studies Mesoamerican archaeology and archaeoastronomy at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.


KindAwareness3073 t1_j3fdto5 wrote

Lidar is the real hero of this story. The technology has revolutionized Mezo-American studies.


I-Make-Maps91 t1_j3kbmmm wrote

It's easy to underestimate just how ground breaking it is to have high resolution aerial imagery for the entire world. And not only one set, but a constantly updating set across multiple bandwidths that can be customized to your exact needs. There's discoveries that we'll find years from now and we'll go back into the old archives and find it, but who was ever going to randomly stumble into that specific section of endless rainforest?


KindAwareness3073 t1_j3kccqi wrote

Having been in that rain forest I have literslly stood on top of some recent discoveries and never saw them. I can't wait to see what we learn in the coming years, not just about monumental structures, but more importantly about the agriculture, water management, and lives of the people.


timesarewasting t1_j42ehcl wrote

Finally the native Americans would be vindicated. Some Spanish and other invaders not only destroyed their ancient and complex culture but also stamped them with various prejudices.

PS: Western historians of those times were known for "colourful" depictions of other cultures. They made very tall claims about China India Arab etc as well


KindAwareness3073 t1_j42fpxl wrote

The Maya civilization under discussion had collapsed hundreds of years before the Europeans arrived. That said their religioysly drriven cultural destruction is unforgivable. Bishop Diego Landa deserves to be spoken of in the same breath with history's other monsters.


timesarewasting t1_j42e606 wrote

I'm guessing great use of AI as well in decoding these data


I-Make-Maps91 t1_j42eyg7 wrote

Yeah, pattern recognition AI is going to be a game changer when they can feed all the raw data into it.


ubermeisters t1_j3f0xd4 wrote

I don't like it. I would be 16 years older


ThorDansLaCroix t1_j3f3tjh wrote

You would live more years though.


ubermeisters t1_j3f431c wrote

same amount of life experience just so be older? no thanks. I don't want to be old anyway, let alone live extra long? Ill pass on 50 years of diapers thanks.


orsimertank t1_j3fzo3t wrote

I know more about the Aztecs (Mexica of Tenochtitlan in particular) than the Olmecs, etc., so please forgive the question: is this using the 260 day calendar exclusively, or is it in conjunction with the 365 day calendar?

(For those who aren't familiar, the Aztecs used the 365 day solar calendar and 260 day sacred calendar at the same time, with them lining up every 52 years.)


unechartreusesvp t1_j3gdl3g wrote

The 260 days calendar is exclusively for ritual purposes. It's used in conjunction with other astronomical calendars: Solar calendar of 360 days (plus 5 bad days...) Moon calendar, and also a Venus calendar (this one quite important!)

And other bigger cycles.

The Dresden codex it's a beautiful and rich ritual calendar, really interesting.


orsimertank t1_j3ha2zs wrote

I asked the question because the article is looking at Preclassic, not Postclassic. Dresden codex is Postclassic.


cld1984 t1_j3f8kom wrote

I never considered it before, but seeing them mention hundreds of structures set up to facilitate astronomical observations makes me wonder if, before the advent of time measurement devices, other buildings were positioned based at least partly on the Sun and Moon.

Like, would the local shop position his building so the sun shines through his front door right when he plans to open. Of course this would be at different times during the year, but maybe it could work.

I dunno though. Seems like a lot of work for convenience.


KindAwareness3073 t1_j3fdksv wrote

In much of the ancient world getting enough sunlight was not the problem.


TheGrandExquisitor t1_j3ff7a8 wrote

Depends. Inside could become very dark even on a bright day. And windows weren't always convenient because pane glass wasn't around the weather could be an issue.


KindAwareness3073 t1_j3fg42q wrote

As an architect I can assure you, ancient architects thought a lot about the sun, for a variety of reasons, but primarily as a source of warmth in winter months. Roman baths and their wall openings were carefully designed to let in direct winter sunlight but not summer.

Edit: there/their


unechartreusesvp t1_j3gdvay wrote

Actually not only sun and moon, but also Venus, and other celestial objects.

Many sites include some astronomical observation points, done of them to keep the solar year calendar in place, like knowing when to add more days to accommodate the 365 solar year in conjunction with the the solstices.


fleebleganger t1_j3ih2zn wrote

Sunshine was a huge deal before lightbulbs.

Artificial lighting used to be really expensive, so light in the morning and evening, while receiving shade at midday would have absolutely thought of.

My opinion is the modern world, especially in developed nations, is too dependent on conveniences like light bulbs, microwaves, salted roads. Now no one has to give any thought to other people or the world around them, just what they need in the moment. People being selfish isn’t new, but now the whole world seems to cater to being selfish.


Mr_B0b_Dobalina t1_j3hlwpu wrote

More that these cities were heavily planned, and every building had to be in orientation with the city plan. Individuals weren't making decisions on how to build their buildings.


AlgebraicEagle t1_j3fvswm wrote

That's incredibly exciting!

Ohhh to be part of this research!


danonck t1_j3hrwkt wrote

There's still so much we don't know about the pre-Columbian civilizations it's exciting and scary at the same time. The worst part is we will never fully understand the scope of their advancement in technology, science etc.


mutherfuqq t1_j3ih8zr wrote

I’m currently traveling in Guatemala. There are an estimated 7 million+ Mayan people in the nation and many still adhere to this 260 day calendar referred to as the Tzolk’in. It is used in conjunction with the 365 day calendar referred to as the Haab’. Both of these calendars were used for different purposes that I really don’t know much about! It has been interesting to see how the Mayan people here in Guatemala also observe and celebrate the Gregorian calendar, New years was a blast. Below is a link to the wikis for the 260 day calendar wiki.



timesarewasting t1_j42evy1 wrote

Such things really contribute to diversity in thoughts. To be aware of cultural and historical diversity is to recognise the basic humanity of each human.. sad that once some people claimed them to be animals and even cannibalistic


Starbourne8 t1_j3j59ta wrote

The 365 day calendar is vastly superior to any other type. Not even close.

It’s nice to be able to count how many times the sun will come up and go down again before the next winter solstice.


[deleted] t1_j3epi6t wrote



jabberwockxeno t1_j3ewjo9 wrote

No, this has no bearing on anything said in Ancient Apocalypse.

Also, In general, I found the show's episode on Mesoamerica (Ep2) to be pretty terrible and misrepresenative: Hancock relies on the general public ignorance about Mesoamerica to present accepted info as extraordinary, and then acts as if that info totally undermines everything archaeologists say they know, when in reality it's not really a big deal

For example, with Cholula, he presents the fact that the Pyramid has layers as some sort of unexpected find, the implication being that it calls into question the pyramid's age. But pyramids being built sequentially in layers like a Russian doll is VERY common in Mesoamerica: with expansions built as new kings took power or during important cosmological milestones. And the specific layers of the Great Pyramid of Cholula is well studied in particular, due to fact that the structure wasn't destroyed by the Spanish (see below). Hancock even explicitly says he doesn't even dispute that dating (which makes this whole segment feel pointless and dishonest, since he's clearly still trying to make people skeptical)

I also found his segment of "What made these people build it here?" to be sort of absurd and confusing. Why is anything built anywhere? He's approaching it as if there MUST be a special reason (apparently in some of his books he outright thinks pyramids have some occult magic energy, so maybe that's why), but even sort of answers his own question by noting it was built over a spring. This is actually not uncommon in Mesoamerica: Pools of water, mirrors, caves, etc were all tied to underworld entrances in Mesoamerican cosmology, with Pyramids at Teotihuacan or Chichen Itza's Temple of Kukulkan also being over pools/caves. He tries to present this as some sort of global pattern, bringing up that the Giza Pyramid in Egypt and one in Southeast Asia was too, but he doesn't actually provide evidence those aren't isolated examples

This sort of comparison between different world pyramids (and his assertion that "all pyramids have connections to death and rebirth") also falls flat since as Mesoamerican pyramids were primarily temples, not tombs like in Egypt (I know Hancock disputes Egyptian pyramids were tombs, but Egypt sn't my area so I can't comment). Yes, there were occasionally buried remains and ceremonial goods left in Mesoamerican pyramids, but these were usually ritual offerings to consecrate the construction of new phases/layers of the pyramid's construction, not burials the monument itself was dedicated to. Fundamentally Meso. and Egyptian pyramids were different structures that just have a similar shape. (There's even Meso. Pyramids used as administrative buildings, sorta!)

The show also misrepresents Geoffrey McCafferty (the Cholula Researcher's) statements (something he has claimed himself): At one point, Hancock asks "Is that enough to be confident enough about the full story", and of course he basically says "No, there's a lot of work to be done to teach us more about Mesoamerica". That's not saying "Everything we think we know is wrong" (which is what Hancock implies it to be) it's just saying that there's still more excavations to do that will help fill in what gaps are left, as there's always more we can learn. And when he said something like "Knowing more about Cholula would let us rethink Mesoamerican as a whole": The researcher's point was likely that a better understanding of Cholula would give us a better picture of how social, political and religious trends changed in Mesoamerica over time (since Cholula existed as small village in 1000BC all the way to being a large city with 40k denizens as of Spanish contact) and since the city had widespread religious influence, that more info on Cholula would likewise yield insights into other parts of Mesoamerica

The 3d Cholula render the episode used is also pretty wrong: It just had buildings evenly spaced in a solid sheet around the Pyramid. No roads, city planning, etc: Mesoamerican cities usually had a central urban core with temples, palaces and other elite housing, civic buildings, ball courts, etc, all richly painted and decorated, organized around open plazas for communal activities and ritualistic alignment. And then around that you had suburbs of commoner housing interspersed with agricultural land, etc, with the suburbs gradually decreasing in density the further out you go (in some cases, covering hundreds of square kilometers). Both the core and in some cases the suburbs had roads, aquaducts, etc. The Pyramid in the render was also grey and mossy, in ruins. If this is meant to be at the Pyramid's apex, then it should be painted and adorned with sculptures, reliefs, etc. If it's depicting it as of Spanish contact (which is what the graphics suggest), then it would've been buried in soil: The entire reason it's intact today is the Spanish mistook it as a hill, as Cholua's denizens had switched to using a new Great Pyramid dedicated to Quetzalcoatl centuries before contact. The show also mislabels some Teotihuacan frescos as being from Cholula; gets some of the dating wrong; incorrectly claims the whole pyramid was adobe and straw when many construction layers had stone as either the outer facade or even for the inner structural fill

Moving onto Texcotzinco: Firstly, this is an INCREDIBLE site more people should know about: This was a royal estate/retreat for rulers of Texcoco, the second most powerful Aztec city. It sourced water from 5 miles of aqueducts (some elevated 150 feet off the ground) which brought the water to a series of pools and channels to control the flow rate on an adjacent hill, then across the gorge between there and Texcotzinco, where it flowed into a circuit around Texcotzinco's summit, into the site's painted shrines, pools, fountains, etc, and then formed artificial waterfalls which watered the botanical gardens at the hill's base, which had different sections to mimic different Mexican biomes. Of course it also had a palace at the top of the mountain's peak, etc. We outright have written sources discussing the site being designed in the 1460s AD by Nezahualcoyotl, Texcoco's most famous king who also designed levee and aqueduct systems at other Aztec cities. Now, It should be noted that these accounts are written by his descendant, Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxóchitl in the late 16th/early 17th century, for the specific purpose of glorifying Texcoco to the Spanish, and we do know he twisted details, like claiming he worshipped a monotheistic god and rejected sacrifice. There's a whole book on this, "The Allure of Nezahualcoyotl", but as far as I know it doesn't dispute he built the site. Dr. Susan Toby Evans has a lot of papers on Texcotzinco, but a lot of her faculty page's links are down: I did find one mention that the site probably had some shrines built under earlier Texcoca rulers before Nezahualcoyotl, and the papers do mention there being archaeological evidence for dating rather then just textual sources, but sadly no specifics are listed.

However, Hancock's points are still unconvincing: The guy he talks about Texcotzinco with pretty much gives zero actual scientific analysis or actual criticism of any sort of dating method, just vague commentary about weathering, so there's no real evidence to review, and isn't a specialist of the site like the Cholula guy was: this guy just runs an Atlantis blog. Hancock's other point is that there's Tlaloc iconography at the site, and uses a pre-Aztec Tlaloc sculpture from another site to imply Texcotzinco could be pre Aztec too... BUT WE ALL ALREADY KNOW TLALOC IS PRE AZTEC! The evolution of Tlaloc and other Mesoamerican rain gods from Olmec ""were jaguar" (there's some debate of what they're depicting) sculptures is VERY well documented, there's even full Digimon style charts showing the specific stages of development the iconography went through at different times in different parts of Mesoamerica! So the presence of Tlaloc iconography doesn't inherently suggest any time period, and if anything the Tlaloc depictions at the site are consistent with Aztec period examples. Even if Texcotzinco DID have Pre-Aztec construction, it would likely just mean it was from the dozens of Pre-Aztec civilizations in Mesoamerica we already know about. Again, Hancock relies on the fact that most viewers don't know much on Mesoamerica to present normal finds as unusual

Lastly (skipping Xochicalo as i'm at the char. limit) Hancock's telling of the myth with Quetzalcoatl mixes details from different accounts or just gets stuff wrong: The flood he references is from myths detailing the cyclical creation and destruction of the world (and was done by Chalchiuhtlicue, not Tlaloc), wheras Quetzalcoatl sailing on a raft of snakes comes from Aztec accounts about the 10th century Toltec lord Ce Acatl Topiltzin, who is tied to Quetzalcoatl: These are largely separate narratives eons apart. And even then, only SOME of the latter involve the raft, and in them, he is LEAVING rather then arriving. Even these versions recorded in the early colonial period we know have Catholic influences from Friars re-writing them to aid in conversion and to make their rule seem pre-ordained. Stuff like Cortes being mistaken for Quetzalcoatl (a myth invented for similar reasons) comes from these, too. Hancock's telling is, if anything, closer to even later and more nonsense versions that make Quetzalcoatl white, blond, etc. Some of the earlier ones do have him as bearded, but the Mesoamericans had facial hair! We know it was customary in Aztec society for everyone other then rulers (Moctezuma II had facial hair!) or the elderly to shave, and Topiltzin was both

I'll also post some links, images, etc of some of what I mentioned below in a follow up reply.


notatuma t1_j3f4bf3 wrote

This answer is so thorough and final the dude deleted his Reddit account lol. Well done.


black_brook t1_j3f1xcg wrote

Could you comment on how the 260 day calendar was reconciled or integrated with the 365 day solar year? For some reason nothing I read makes this clear.


MrDickPickles t1_j3hzpt5 wrote

All of South America is a treasure trove of undiscovered artifacts and settlements. I want to go down there with a metal detector but I’m scared of getting robbed or worse killed for the things I find.