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March 7th, 2006, 11:21 PM
Caracol is the largest Maya archaeological site in Belize, Central America. Urban Caracol maintained a population of over 140,000 people through the creation of an immense agricultural field system and through elaborate city planning.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/travel/belize/caracol_belize.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/travel/belize/)

March 7th, 2006, 11:33 PM
Xunantunich was a major ceremonial center during the Classic Period. The site is composed of six major plazas, surrounded by more than twenty-five temples and palaces.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/travel/belize/xunantunich_belize.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/travel/belize/)

March 8th, 2006, 07:11 AM
Were these places abandoned by the time the conquistadores showed up?

March 8th, 2006, 09:15 AM
For reasons that have not yet been ascertained (drought? collapse due to wars?) the Mayan empire went into steep decline beginning around 900 AD. Caracol seemingly was totally abandoned by 1050 AD, well before the arrival of the Spanish in the early 1500s.

Here's a timeline: http://www.caracol.org/maya_prehistory.htm

And a terrific site chronicling current archeological digs at Caracol (Feb. 2006): http://www.international.ucf.edu/caracol/caracol.htm

A topographic model ( http://www.caracol.org/history.htm ) :


An overview of the site:


March 8th, 2006, 09:21 AM
As a note, this overview photo presents only one plaza at Caracol and does not show another plaza with the largest structure, the one on my first photo.

March 8th, 2006, 09:43 AM
btw: A new film (Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson), centered on the Mayans at the time of the arrival of an invading force (rumors from the closely guarded shoot claim the force to be the Spanish), will be released this summer.



Mauricio Amuy Tenorio (right)will be playing the lead role of a Maya chief
in Apocalypto. He is a model and actor from Costa Rica, retains Mexican
citizenship, and was awarded the first Celebrity with a Big Heart Award (http://www.usafashionshows.com/spring2004/social/celebrityaward.htm)
in 2003

Apocalypto was shot in Veracruz Mexico and the indiginous actors in the film speak in a native Mayan-derived language called Yucateco (http://apocalyptowatch.blogspot.com/2006/02/what-language-is-apocalypto-filmed-in_02.html).

From recent TIME magazine article ( http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1169484,00.html ) :

The film, which Gibson co-wrote with first-time screenwriter Farhad Safinia, is an allegory about the collapse of civilizations--with warnings about environmental abuse and political fear-mongering ... the obvious care that has been taken with costumes, sets and the dialect-correct language suggests the kind of cultural attention filmdom has rarely if ever accorded the Mayas, who were the Greeks of the New World.

The trailer I've seen in theatres looks fantastic.

You can see a "teaser" trailer here: http://apocalypto.movies.go.com/

March 8th, 2006, 11:24 AM
I'm actually reading 1491 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/140004006X/102-4984550-6808141?v=glance&n=283155) right now, which is about this topic exactly (and a good read so far - written by a journalist, so it's more engaging than an academic book). I haven't finished, so I may be wrong, but I believe the Maya were at the height of their civilization when the Spanish arrived, but almost all of their culture was forgotten because that interaction was so disruptive.

That's a common theory. More interesting to me is the suggestion that there were several generations of advanced civilizations in the pre-columbian Americas that recent(ish) research is just starting to reveal. They were all long-forgotten by the time of the Incas and Maya - possibly because those cultures suppressed information to self-aggrandize.

Most interesting is the suggestion that the Beni of Boliva that built islands in a large flood plain in order to cultivate trees:


March 8th, 2006, 12:08 PM
I may be wrong, but I believe the Maya were at the height of their civilization when the Spanish arrived, but almost all of their culture was forgotten because that interaction was so disruptive.
Aztecs, yes ...


The Aztecs were conquered by Spain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain) in 1521 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1521), when after long battle and a long siege where much of the population died from hunger and smallpox (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smallpox), Cuauhtémoc (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuauht%C3%A9moc) surrendered to Hernán Cortés (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hern%C3%A1n_Cort%C3%A9s). Cortés, with his up to 500 Spaniards, did not fight alone but with as many as 150,000 or 200,000 allies from Tlaxcala (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tlaxcala), and eventually from Texcoco, who were resisting Aztec rule. He defeated Tenochtitlan's forces on August 13 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_13), 1521 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1521).

An anonymous Aztec poet wrote:

How can we save our homes, my people
The Aztecs are deserting the city
The city is in flames and all
is darkness and destruction

Weep my people
Know that with these disasters
We have lost the Mexican nation
The water has turned bitter
Our food is bitter
These are the acts of the Giver of Life.

– From the Informantes Anónimos de Tlatelolco, compiled in 1521 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1521).

Mayans, no ...


The later Classic period (c. 250 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/250) - 900 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/900)) witnessed the peak of widespread urban center construction and the recording of monumental inscriptions, particularly in the southern lowland regions. For reasons which are still much debated, many of these sites were abandoned in the Terminal phase of this period (the so-called "Terminal collapse"), although in several places these activities continued, particularly in northern Yucatán. Detailed monumental inscriptions all but disappeared. During the succeeding Post-Classic period (to the early 16th century), development in the northern centers persisted, characterised by an increasing diversity of external influences; however by the time of the Spanish arrival (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_conquest_of_Yucat%C3%A1n) in 1519 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1519) most of these centers had substantively declined.

April 8th, 2006, 04:03 AM
I was recently in the movie theater and saw a preview for the movie Apocalypto which will be released this summer. To be strait forward, it caught my eye because of its Mayan storyline. Let me explain why. I am a descendant of the mayan empire. My grandparents are both directly descended from the mayan race which makes me naturally drawn to it since i identify with it as my culture. The second reason the movie caught my eye is because of the actor Mauricio Amuy Tenorio. My last name is Tenorio although i was separated from my father so i have little information access to my family history. I was wondering if there are many mayan descendants and also if Tenorio is a common last name. For some reason my heritage has always been of great importance to me as well as the discovery of waht i do not know. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

April 8th, 2006, 01:39 PM
Have any of you ever visited Chichen Itza?




Observatory (the Mayans were skilled astronomers):


April 8th, 2006, 03:25 PM
"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within,"

Is this happening to us?

"When the end comes, not everyone is ready."

April 9th, 2006, 01:44 PM
Sounds like the jacket cover from Jared Diamond's "Collapse".

April 9th, 2006, 01:47 PM
^ It's blurbs from the movie publicity.

Mel Gibson, historian extraordinaire and Christian theologian.

April 10th, 2006, 09:34 PM
I'm glad to hear 1491 is a good read. I'm waiting for it to be released in trade paperback (for easy subway reading).

April 18th, 2006, 01:41 PM
I visited Chichen Itza about 5 years ago. It is a magnificent archeological site. The pyramid in your 1st photo is amazing. The surrounding land is so flat that you are basically standing on a man made mountain.
Question - did you take the time to go inside the base of the pyramid? There are stairs inside that go to the temple of the Jaguar (I think). I also got into a little trouble there, since I went off tour and entered some of the buildings that were off limits.
I will look for the photos and post them, but they were 35mm and not digi.

April 18th, 2006, 05:04 PM
I wound up not going inside the Pyramid; I used the time instead to explore the rest of the site. If you have photos of the interior, I'd love to see them.

September 24th, 2006, 05:40 PM
A new film (Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson), centered on the Mayans at the time of the arrival of an invading force ...


A P O C A L Y P T O, now set to open December 8, has an up-dated website (http://apocalypto.movies.go.com/) with a fantastic new and longer trailer ...

click "VIEW MORE OPTIONS' beneath the movie screen on the lower right (seee below) for larger trailer screen ...

some screen captures ...