Bonus Blog

I’m not entirely sure if anyone can say that one specific site is more important than another. I don’t think we can really compare all the different sites we talked about in terms of important because they give an idea of what the people, culture, and time was in that area and time.

The site that I thought was most interesting site was Machu Picchu. Just by looking at it (or seeing pictures of it) you can tell how incredible the site is. Taking a closer look at it becomes even more amazing with how painstakingly the stones were cut and put into place, and knowing it was built almost 8,000 feet above sea level on a mountain. It is an absolute masterpiece of architecture, which tells a lot about the Incan culture and technology.

One of the more interesting parts of the site is the drainage system that was built specifically for the needs of the area, as well as the water supply system that would prevent the buildings from falling down the mountain and have drinking water be made accessible to the people. A canal descends the mountain slope, enters the city walls, passes through the agricultural sector, then crosses the inner wall into the urban sector, where it feeds a series of 16 fountains known as the stairway of fountains.

The site rested on top of a ridge with a roughly 50 percent slope and received almost 2,000 mm of rainfall. For their city to endure, the Inca had to find a way to keep it from sliding down the mountain. Part of the drainage systems include the agricultural terraces, which not only  maximized the land available for farming, the terraces also protected the agricultural sector from erosion. They layered each terrace for efficient drainage, with a layer of stones at the bottom, followed by gravel, sandy material, and topsoil. The slope of terraces generally directs water toward a system of drainage channels that are integrated with stairways and other structures. These channels direct the drainage water to a large, east-west main drain that runs through the center of Machu Picchu, separating the agricultural and urban sectors. Gravity flow carries runoff into the main drain in both sectors, taking it safely away from the city. Inca also constructed their plazas in the same way as their terraces, with a deep subsurface layer of rock chips. The plazas received runoff from other areas of Machu Picchu, and the subsurface layer of rocks helped the water to penetrate the ground quickly.

Overall, Machu Picchu is tangible evidence of the urban Inca Empire at the peak of its power and achievement—a citadel of cut stone fit together without mortar so tightly that its cracks still can’t be penetrated by a knife blade. The complex of palaces and plazas, temples and homes may have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for ruling elites, but scholars are still looking to uncover clues to the mysteries of the site.

Without iron, wheels, or steel, it is a truly impressive achievement from the Inca.

History of Zombies

It seems as though zombies are coming increasingly more popular in pop culture as time goes on. Countless movies, books, video games, and even TV shows based on zombies have dated back to 1932 when the first feature length zombie film, White Zombie, came out. But have you ever wondered where the images and ideas of the reanimation of dead people came from? Rising from the grave, rotting, pasty, green skin, an uncanny taste for human flesh and brains that can all be ended with a blow to the head. As far as how exactly the people came to zombies varies, but the characteristics described earlier usually stay pretty constant.

History shows that this idea dates back to the 8th century. The word ‘zombie’ is said to have come from nzambi, which in Kongo means ‘spirit of a dead person’, or zonbi, used in the Louisiana Creole or the Haitian Creole that represents a person who died and was then brought to life without speech or free will.

Voodoo folklore contends that Bokors, Voodoo priests that were concerned with the study and application of black magic, posessed the ability to ressurrect the deceased through the administration of coup padrecoup padre is a powder that is issued orally, the primary ingredient of which is tetrodoxin, the deadly substance of the notoriously poisonous fou-fou, or “porcupine fish.” According to lengend, “a zombi(e) is someone who has annoyed his or her family and community to the degree that they can no longer stand to live with this person. They respond by hiring a Bokor..to turn them into a zombi(e).” (www.flmnh.ufl.edu)

  Once they had been issued the coup padre, the subjects being prepared for their descent into zombidom would appear to die insofar as their heart rate would slow to a near stop, their breathing patterns would be greatly subdued and their body temperature would significantly decrease. The public, thinking that the person was dead, would bury him/ her as if they were a corpse. They would then be exhumed, still alive, by the Bokor and, although their physicality remained intact, their memory would be erased and they would be transformed into mindless drones. “Though still living, they remain under the Bokor’s power until the Bokor dies.” (www.flmnh.ufl.edu)

Remains thought to be zombies have been found from evidence that they have been decapitated, or had their brains removed. Victims of zombies have been found with signs of human teeth marks on the found bones. You could say it might be cannibals, but traditionally they will ‘prepare’ their meals with knives or other tools, hence no teeth marks.

Some people even have said that the Mayans were destroyed by zombies. Reports of widespread cannibalism at the end of the Mayan civilization suggests something much more sinister than a simple drought or cross-tribal dispute.  Bones found in and around Mayan cities show signs of being violently ripped from their sockets, and chewed to bits on the spot.  Evidence has even been found of children eating their parents, and entire villages devouring themselves within a matter of days.

Found in Syria, evidence suggests that the Stone Age heads were originally buried with their bodies intact, but then after several years they were dug up and their skulls were crushed and separated from the rest of the skeleton. No one knows why the face-smashing and careful removal of the heads took place. Some say it could have been because the people of the area were trying to prevent the dead from coming back to life.

The act of putting gravestones on top of had apparently come from the fear that the dead might come back to life. It started by placing rocks over a fresh graves, keeping the dead from coming back out of the ground.

What we know as zombies today is largely a myth, but there is a small amount of truth. Voodoo and witchcraft were a huge part of the Haitian culture, which produced ‘zombies’. Whether or not it actually works doesn’t matter, here is where the saying ‘mind over matter’ comes into play. People were given the terotoxin and soon believed themselves into becoming a zombie. From there, the rest of the story comes together, with money as a motivation, stories were changed for the people’s pleasure.

Newly Discovered Burial Grounds

From my understanding, there is no lack of ancient burial grounds throughout the history of most cultures. We have already seen a countless amount in class so far in many different countries. Burials are usually a sign of respect or a belief in the afterlife, and, when found, will give a deeper understanding of the history of those peoples.

I came across an interesting, somewhat recent new article explaining in an area close to the small Mexican village of Onavas, south Sonora, archaeologists have uncovered the first pre-Hispanic cemetery of that area, dating to around 1,000 years ago. The burial ground consists of 25 individuals; 13 have intentional cranial deformation and five also have dental mutilation, cultural practices which are similar to those of pre-Hispanic groups in southern Sinaloa and northern Nayarit, but until now, have not been seen in Sonora, proving to be an exciting find for archeologists. Of the 25 burials, 17 were children between 5 months and 16 years of age.

The archaeologist at the site said that, “Cranial deformation in Mesoamerican cultures was used to differentiate one social group from another and for ritual purposes, while the dental mutilation in cultures such as the Nayarit was seen as a rite of passage into adolescence. This is confirmed by the findings at the Sonora cemetery where the five bodies with dental mutilation are all over 12 years in age.”

Dental mutilation involves filing or grinding teeth into odd shapes, while cranial deformation involves distorting the normal growth of a child’s skull by applying force, for example, by using cloths to bind wooden boards against their heads.

Apparently there are a lot of unknown pieces of information coming from the burial site that are things that were pretty normal in other cultures. In other cultures, it is easy to distinguish between social classes from the sites the people were buried it, in this case, you cannot recognize any social differences because all the burials seem to have the same characteristics. They were also unable to determine why some were wearing ornaments such as earrings, nose rings, bracelets, pendants and necklaces made from seashells and snails from the Gulf of California, and others not, or why of the 25 skeletons only one was female.

With the new find, people are arguing about why the heads are deformed the way they are here. Some are saying if could be because of aliens, other are saying since there was no real evidence of a difference in social class, the deformed heads could be from a genetic mutation.

After reading this, I thought it could be possible that the deformed head shape could be from genetic mutations, and maybe because of that these people were ostracized from the community, leaving them to live, and die, alone with each other.

I was also thinking that the high number of children at the the burial site with the deformed skulls could mean they had died during the process. I’m not really sure if cranial deformation is dangerous, or produces very many deaths, but I would imagine it if was done incorrectly, or done too fast it could cause some serious damage. Maybe they had just started doing the deformation and these were something of test subjects.

But I’m not archeologist and, in reality I’m sure it was something to do with social class. Binding of the skull is nothing new.

Akhenaten, an alien?

I know, we talked about the craziness of alien theories in class, but I can’t help myself. The show Ancient Aliens is addicting to watch for that very reason. It may be the reason why I wanted to take this class in the first place, but I won’t admit to that.

As the title suggest, the ancient astronaut theorists have come up with a reason for the way Akhenaten was depicted in such a strange way during the time he ruled; he was an ALIEN! Or at least came from alien decedents.

The depictions of Akhenaten were not just a different artistic style of the time, nor was it due to biological deformities. With his elongated features, especially his skull, and overall strange shape of his body with an abnormally larger mid section, how could it not remind us of the look of an alien.

The name “Akhenaten”, as stated in class, means “living spirit of Aten”, being, of course, the disk of the sun. As it turns out, these theorists have suggested that maybe this “disk” was something of a UFO, after all it is a large disc shape that hovers in the sky. The argument against it just being the sun is  that if Akhenaten says he came from it, then there must be something more to this object.

During the time I was researching this topic, the following picture continually reappeared:

We talked about this depiction of the family as being strange because it was a much more personal and affectionate way to show a royal family then anyone had seen before. The other strange thing seen in this picture is the strange shape the children have as well. They look like aliens, right? Some have said the hats were used to cover up the elongated skulls of the adults, maybe to hide their alien heritage. It has also been said that certain binding techniques were used to purposefully make the head look this way. The later makes sense, but where would they have been made to believe that this particular shape of the skull is superior to others, enough to deform their own bodies and children? Aliens? Perhaps. (Note that Aten is also pictured here looking like a UFO)

The thing I find most unbelievable about this theory is that this would all be assuming that aliens look like the green, creepy, big-eyed creature we see in all the science fiction movies.

I can play along with the theory and pretend that it makes sense, but when it’s assumed that aliens look like this, the stereotypical alien image, I’m not sure I can let myself believe that. These images were conjured up through a combination of H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds) and people making false claims about what they saw in Roswell, New Mexico.

With all that being said, I still won’t stop watching Ancient Aliens.

 

Aliens and the Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramid alignment with Orion transposed on top.

I watch Ancient Aliens more than I care to admit, but I found it interesting that I had recently seen an episode on the Pyramids of Giza right before we watched the movie in class.

Above is a bird’s-eye-view of the pyramids with a picture of Orion’s belt transposed on top. Clearly, it is evident that the three stars in the middle of the Orion constellation, diagonally but with one star deviating, and three pyramids, also with one deviating from the diagonal, and the relative positions of stars and pyramids match each other perfectly. Even the brightness of the stars matches the size of the pyramids. Giza consists of two almost equally tall pyramids and a smaller one which is only 53% of the height of the other two. The belt of Orion consists of two almost similarly bright stars, and one with only 50% of the brightness of the other two. The smallest pyramid is the one which deviates from the diagonal, as does the dimmest star.

Aside from Orion, the Great Pyramid is also lined up almost perfectly with the magnetic North Pole. With that being said, the Egyptians had to access to a compass, nor had it even been invented for a few thousand years after the Egyptians were gone.

During the evening of the summer solstice, from the view of the Sphinx, the sun sets right between the Great Pyramid and its neighbor.  For the Egyptians to be able to do this they must have known the day of the summer solstice, and they therefore,  must have known the exact length of the year, or 365.25. Again, a fact not discovered until long after the Egyptians were gone.

Sun setting during summer solstice

It is also quite strange the the Pyramids of Giza are still in almost perfect condition, while the other pyramids, which were supposedly built about 500 years later, all have sub-par  masonry, and are crumbling down.  An example of this is the famous ‘bent’ pyramid,  which  started out with the sides being built at one angle,  then suddenly shifts in the middle to a shallower angle.  This is because the angle at which it was started  was much too steep for it to stand when finished.

A more obvious and unexplainable feat of these pyramids is the fact that each stone was around two tons, so how were the Egyptians able to build these pyramids? The wheel was not invented until later on.

With all of this being said, it is important to keep in mind that the Egyptians had no knowledge of mathematics or geometry, both of which would be strong explanations for how they could have been built.

I’m not saying that I necessarily believe that aliens had a hand in building the pyramids, nor do I really believe in “Ancient Astronaut Theory”, but they make a strong case.