New Maya temple discovered in Guatemala
July 22, 2012 11:37 AM   Subscribe

"Dramatic" New Maya Temple Found, Covered With Giant Faces (SLNatGeo)
posted by tykky (23 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I think the last time I saw a face like that I was running really low on mana and looking for red jewels.
posted by The Whelk at 11:41 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did they find a different calendar??!!!??
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:48 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The archeologists I know mostly spend their time carefully digging marked off plots in the hope of finding bits of flint, or plotting faint outlines of walls and buildings using geophysics - it must be amazing to find an actual for real big thing like this.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Too bad we have less than six months to enjoy them.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:00 PM on July 22, 2012

"Dramatic"? "Solar power"? "Regarded the building as a living being"? "[mutilation] not an act of disrespect ... quite the opposite"? "great pains to preserve the original structure"? "three-dimensional", "play of light", "Blazing red"? "Death of a dynasty"? It all seems a bit grandiose to read into a piece of rock. You can only hope that future generations of archeologists are equally inspired by our detritus.
posted by deo rei at 12:01 PM on July 22, 2012

Have they found any trace of the giants whose fec... nevermind.
posted by Anything at 12:05 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

From the video, he says that the defacement of the noses and mouths of the faces were because the Mayan people thought they were real. How do you prove that that was the case, instead of it being basic vandalism?

I can much more easily imagine some Mayan young adults defacing the sculptures as a form of rebellion against the social order, not necessarily because they thought they were actual physical representations of the god.

(Anything: yeah that's what I read at first too.)
posted by hanoixan at 12:07 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The destruction is a systematic pattern that's been noted several times, which coincides with new building, not with decline (as is the case with the defacement and burning of buildings and carvings in Teotihuacan, for instance). There are other theories too, of course, but this repeated pattern doesn't seem to point to random vandalism or strife.

Pendantic side note: "Maya" refers to the people, places, etc., while "Mayan" refers to the language.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:17 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I first misread the title "Shark-man" as "Shankman", i.e., TV's Adam Shankman, the judge on So You Think You Can Dance. And it all made sense, bugged out spiral eyes, tears rolling down cheeks, tongue hanging out, an expression he has made numerous times while witnessing some on the dreamier contestants on the show. But then I read it was over 1600 years old. My bad.
posted by digsrus at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I noticed the damaged faces and noses before the narrator mentioned it. It looked deliberate to me, and it's a common practice for invading forces - whether organized legions or roving bands of vandals - to desecrate powerful icons in a way that will hurt the locals the most. Whether it's disrespectful vandalism or organized oppression, either way the desecrators recognize the power of the artifacts they are damaging. That alone tells us how valuable they were to the local population.

You may notice that modern vandals don't often spray paint Stars of David on synagogues. The nature of the vandalism betrays the understanding the vandals have of their targets.
posted by Xoebe at 12:43 PM on July 22, 2012

c.f. Saddam Hussein statues and paintings postwar.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
posted by djrock3k at 12:56 PM on July 22, 2012

That La-Mulana re-release was really well-timed.
posted by wanderingmind at 12:58 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of my professors was really into the mayan head count, in which the mayan's would use different faces in the place of numerals.

It makes me wonder if there was some sort of significant information in the noses or the eyes of the defaced statues and perhaps it was a form of erasing it.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:03 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

But were the Blue Barracudas able to assemble the statue in the Shrine of the Silver Monkey?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:14 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup, I read "feces" at first too.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:33 PM on July 22, 2012

This is it, this is where Forrestal cashed in.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:52 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

> mayan head count

You meant head glyphs? Because those are a fascinating look at what happens when writing and art are fused together with no small amount of religion. It's like the highly trained scribes/stonecarvers of the Maya world got bored with the simple bar-dot system and opted to create their own artistic replacements. It would be as though Medieval monks decided to replace the letters in illuminated manuscripts with a system of portraits of biblical figures.

"[Picture of Noah]n the beginning was the [picture of King David]ord..."

FAMSI has a write up on the Maya number system that touches on head glyphs, if anyone finds this as interesting as I do.
posted by Panjandrum at 1:56 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Well it is 2012, so presumably future excavation at this site will release the World Eater, who will be totally mellow until he sees somebody knocked the noses off of every depiction of its face.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:31 PM on July 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

From my study of history, here is what I have learned: do not underestimate the people of older days. Artists, architects and engineers. There are, indeed, giants in the earth, if only we have the wisdom and humility to see them.
posted by SPrintF at 2:57 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

The cacao goddess (pic #9) on the "Maya rise and fall" gallery page is my new favorite deity. All hail.
posted by mediareport at 3:14 PM on July 22, 2012

Panjandrum: It would be as though Medieval monks decided to replace the letters in illuminated manuscripts with a system of portraits of biblical figures.

They sort of did. I'd have a hard time seeing the letter P in that image, if I didn't know it was there. That said, it wasn't as systematized as the Maya glyph system had gotten.

It seems inevitable that if a large group of people spends a lot of time writing, they'll eventually start fucking with the letters (cf. leetspeak).
posted by Kattullus at 6:01 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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