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Children OF THE Plumed Serpent DĂ­a DE LOS Muertos Many Colors OF THE Mimbres Inside Look:


Why Are Weddings White? What Graves Say About

MEXIARCH 2012 Our Trip to Mexico Round-Up

ISSUE 2 | FALL 2012

People of the Stone Age


ON THE COVER ◄Photograph: Qi in a wedding dress, courtesy of Marc van der Chiijs | CC-BY-ND 2.0 A wedding dress is what a bride wears during her marriage ceremony. This dress or gown can be any color; however, the common dress is white. The Tagetes erecta, or Marigold (Cempasuchil in Spanish), is the flower traditionally used in Mexico to honor the dead. What flowers do you use to honor your loved ones that have passed? Tagetes erecta from ► Malaysia courtesy of Tu7uh | CC-BY-SA 3.0

featured contributor Mike Williams has a MA and PhD in archaeology from the University of Reading, United Kingdom. He has written many academic and popular articles on prehistoric belief and shamanism. Check out his book Prehistoric Belief: Shamanism, Trance, and the Afterlife. Follow him :: @MikesVoice Origins, The Magazine by BermudaQuest Issue 2 Fall 2012

©2012 Origins, founded by Melanie E Magdalena in association with BermudaQuest

Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Permission of the authors is required for derivative works, compilations, and translations. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or views of Origins. The publisher, editor, contributors, and related parties assumes no responsibility of loss, injury or inconvenience of any person, organization, or party that uses the information or resources provided within this publication, website, or related products.

Why did the Mimbres punch holes in their bowls? Mimbres pottery is generally associated with burials and often found with a hole at the bottom. These bowls cover the face of the deceased. It’s hypothesized that the “kill” hole let that person’s spirit pass into the afterlife.




What is this? Read about Hooghan architecture and send us your answer!

Many Colors of the Mimbres

Cultural change as seen in pottery colors. SEAN G DOLAN

Day of the Dead

Remembering the dead is more than tradition; it’s a way of life. KAREN MEZA

From Blood Red to Brilliant White


Red ochre, shamanism, and the power of white in Paleolithic burials. MIKE WILLIAMS

26 30

White Weddings

Does white hide a bride’s sin on her wedding day or is it a trend? MORGAN V COURAGE

Navaho Hooghan Architecture

An inside look at Navaho homes. RACHEL PRESTON PRINZ




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36 39



From the editor… Fall—leaves change colors and fall elegantly from treetops. For most, this is the dictionary-definition they experience; not for me. I’ve never had a red-orange autumn in the desert. These colors symbolize the end of summer, winter’s approach, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, and other holidays coming up. Christmas decorations begin appearing in stores before our autumn holidays. This year, I found some in July… (What’s up with that?) Color and symbols are a part of our lives. They give meanings to our culture, like traffic lights: green means go, yellow signals warning (commonly interpreted as, “Warning, speed up!”), and red tells us to stop. What would culture be without symbols? Especially those symbols we use for universal communication, like pictures on signs at airports. Inside this issue, you’ll find a variety of stories about color and symbolism: from Paleolithic burials to why we wear white wedding dresses. We’ve added a new section that will be included in all future issues. ReviewIt will feature temporary museum exhibits; in this issue, you’ll experience Dallas Museum of Art’s “The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico,” which I visited on the opening day this past July. The exhibit explores the ancient kingdoms of southern Mexico and their patron deity Queztalcoatl. These “Children of the Plumed Serpent” developed an extensive trade network that catalyzed entrepreneurial innovation across America. Also, be sure to look at what we brought back from the MexiArch Project 2012 in Mexico. As always, your comments are welcome. You may reach us at I wish you all a colorful autumn, Melanie E. Magdalena

CONTRIBUTORS MORGAN V COURAGE Representative at GW Travel, a travel agency that supports non-profit organizations.

SEAN G DOLAN Southwest archaeology PhD student at the University of Oklahoma.

KAREN MEZA CHERIT Undergraduate studying Business Management at El Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM).

RACHEL PRESTON PRINZ Founder of Archinia and creative muse who strives to use preservation and archaeology in modern bioregional design.


Author of Prehistoric Belief:

Shamanism, Trance, and the Afterlife.

THANK YOU ANDRES AMADO & DIANA HERNANDEZ ALARCON for assisting us with the MexiArch Project.

FIDEL MAGDALENA for joining us on our trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.

By BermudaQuest


The6iconic atlantes of Tula on top of Pyramid B | ORIGINS

Today, little of the Toltec remains. The iconic 15-foot-tall stone warriors, atlantes, still stand a top "Pyramid B." These warriors used to serve as columns holding up the roof. The main facade of "Pyramid B" is a perfect example of characteristic Toltec architecture: partially covered by a large vestibule with multiple columns.

Tollan-Xicocotitlan Land of the Giants Just forty miles north of Mexico City lie the remains of a great ceremonial-political center. This city, TollanXicocotitlan, was home of the ancient Toltec people. Before the rise of the Aztec empire, much of central Mexico, the Gulf Coast, and the Yucatan Peninsula was controlled by the Toltec. It's possible Toltec tradition persisted after the disappearance of the civilization Chichen Itza appears to have a lot of Toltec influence.

Artist’s rendition of Pyramid B [CONCULTA-INAH]

Ball Court 1

Ball Court 2

Looking down from "Pyramid B" stand the remains of the Burnt Palace. Was this where the civilization's elite members met for private ceremonies? Quite possibly. This architectural complex consisted of three grand halls and benches set into the walls. Friezes and reliefs decorate the flat surfaces. The most important offerings discovered were in the central hall. The Coatepantli, serpent wall, was quite possibly a prototype for walls later on built around Aztec cities. The relief figures show human skeletons being devoured by giant rattlesnakes - a possible reference to human sacrifice. The stepped frets may have been of Mixtec influence because of their similarity to the Mitla mosaics in the Valley of Mexico. There are two ball courts, one to the North and the other to the West. "Ball Court 1" is the smallest ball court that has been excavated.

The Grand Halls of the Burnt Palace

the rise and fall of


Tenochtitlán Many are familiar with the Aztec empire that flourished from 13251519, until the conquest led by Hernan Cortes. Tenochtitlán was made possible by the cultural unity and political power of their time. It began as a tiny marsh island in Lake Texcoco and expanded into their great Aztec capital. It wasn't until the 1900s when the temple was found in ruins. A waterway built tore through the site destroying even more of Mexico's ancient history. Mexico was well aware of the existence of the Great Pyramid; the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral) was purposely built on top of the site to enforce Catholicism on the Aztec people. The site visible today was excavated after in 1978.

Scale model of the Twin-Temple Great Pyramid

Walls of Stage IVB and Coyolxauhqui monolith

a metro surprise

In 1967, ten years earlier, the Pyramid of Ehécatl was discovered during the construction of the Metro (at the Pino Suarez station). This temple-pyramid was originally built in front of the Great Pyramid. Today, it’s a couple blocks away and relatively underground.

understanding the ruins

Today the Templo Mayor is open to the public. Much of its majesty and mystery remains buried at the heart of the Zocalo. Taking that first step into the ruins sends you almost a thousand years back in time. Modern elevated paths take you through the site through its many phases of construction. Each ruler of Tenochtitlan was responsible for enlarging or expanding the Great Pyramid. Not only did the expansions reflect the growing population but may have been motivated by the constant floods the city suffered. These stages of construction are visible "thanks to" the conquest when the city was destroyed.

The Pyramid of Ehécatl Tzompantli altar, dedicated to Mictlampa (the underworld)

destruction of the great pyramid of Tenochtitlán

Tenochtitlan fell in 1521 and was almost completely destroyed. The Avila brothers, the conquerors, built their homes on top of the ruins. The brothers and Martin Cortes, son of Hernan Cortes, were arrested and sentenced to death in 1566 for conspiring against the Spanish crown.

Bringing Mexican archaeology to the palm of your hand.

Tlaloc shrine, the remains of one Twin Temple




Remember when you were a little kid in art class and the teacher asked you how to make different colors by adding colors together? Just imagine trying to create new color schemes 1,000 years ago when you did not have the right color crayon to add. The Mimbres people who lived in southwest New Mexico from 650-1130 C.E. had this same problem. However, they utilized certain technical skills necessary to change colors on their pottery which in turn symbolized a change in material culture and ideology. This article discusses how the Mimbres people deliberately changed the way they made pottery to produce different colors and how archaeologists today see this change in the archaeological record. Many museums around the United States and the world display the iconic Mimbres Black-on-white bowls since they depict intricate geometric and naturalistic designs. Reptiles, mammals, and insects are some of the images they painted on these bowls. During the 1900's, amateur archaeologists and pot hunters focused their attention on southwest New Mexico near Deming, Mimbres, and Silver City since they could find beautifully painted ceramic vessels and then sell them for profit. This area of the United States is one of the most pot hunted areas in the country. The Mimbres Black-on-white vessels are stunning and can provide a hefty price at an auction, however this hurts the practice of archaeology since we lose all context associated with these artifacts because pot hunters rarely took notes or photographs of what they dug. â—„ Mimbres bowl with geometric design, 1100-1150 CE. Dallas Museum of Art., PD-ART. By BermudaQuest


How did the Mimbres make the pottery you see in museums throughout the world?

There are four color schemes. Each included a different technological and stylistic variability. This is great for archaeologists because it gives us a way to date archaeological sites.

First, they would go find clay sources which is usually found near river banks. The clays they used are rich in iron which initially gives the pottery a dark reddishbrown appearance.

There are three styles of Mimbres Black-on-white and each can be differentiated from one another due to the artists technique and amount of lines near the vessel's rim. Style III which was made from 1000-1130 C.E. is most sought after by collectors since it is the pinnacle of Mimbres pottery because Style III depicts the most naturalistic designs which includes various animals, humans, and anthropomorphic figures.

After the bowl-shape was produced and dry, the artist would use a yucca or human hairbrush to paint the intricate designs on the bowl. They would grind iron ore, which is a mineral commonly found in the area, and add water or plant material to form the paint. Kaolin, which is a fine white chalky clay, was added to the interior of the bowl during manufacturing which gives some Mimbres vessels a white color. The most important step for the evolution of color in Mimbres pottery has to deal with the amount of oxygen used in the firing process. The final production method is to either place the pottery bowl side up to increase oxygen giving it a red color or bowl side down to reduce the oxygen, producing a black color.

Mogollon Red-on-brown has bold designs that incorporate rectilinear parallel lines. Unlike later Mimbres vessels, the makers of Mogollon Red-onbrown did not apply a white kaolin slip on the interior. Three Circle Red-on-white is the first Mimbres painted ware to include this white slip to produce a white color. The designs on Three Circle Redon-white resemble Mogollon Red-on-brown but include more curvilinear elements. All Mimbres potters fired their pottery in outside kilns, however they fired the red-on-brown and red-onwhite variations with the bowl side up. This method of firing with an increase in oxygen changes the pigment to red when fired.

650-750 C.E. Mogollon Red-on-brown


Potters used this technique of firing for about one hundred years, which is a short time period. Archaeologists want to find these two pottery types at archaeological sites because Mogollon Red-onbrown (650-750 C.E.) and Three Circle Red-onwhite (730-770 C.E.) have short life spans in the archaeological record. They can relatively date the site based on the presence or absence of different pottery types and since Three Circle Red-on-white is only around for about forty years, it gives the archaeologist a better assessment of the sites date. There was an incredible change in the iconography, style, and technology associated with this area of New Mexico starting around 750 C.E. The Mimbres people did not start using different minerals to use as paint pigment. Someone, probably a woman – because they are presumed the ones that are making the pottery – decided to turn the bowl upside down so that no or a reduced amount of oxygen would enter changing the color from redon-white to the famous black-on-white (what Mimbres is typically known for). Not only is this the first time that black was used on their pottery, but the Mimbres started painting more intricate and naturalistic designs on their bowls.

Many animals such as fish (see central photo), turkeys, snakes, and rabbits were created in different design schemes. Sometimes, they depict the Mimbres people doing various activities such as hunting animals or even women giving birth. The change from red to black is significant because the Mimbres people continued to produce blackon-white pottery until their culture ended around 1130 C.E. Three Circle Red-onwhite was only made for a short time after the black-on-white came into existence. After that, there was no going back. The Mimbres people definitely noticed that if they turn the bowl upside down, the reduction of oxygen in the atmosphere while the bowl was being fired gives it a black-on-white rather than red-on-white design. At this point in their culture, they made a conscious decision to stop making red-on-brown or red-on-white bowls and only made black-onwhite as well as the fourth color scheme, called Mimbres Polychrome. Mimbres Polychrome is possibly the rarest pottery type for the Mimbres because they made it for a short time period, roughly 70 years, and it utilizes not just black-on-white, but a third color, usually a

By BermudaQuest


Mimbres bowls at Stanford University | DAVID MONNIAUX CC-BY-SA 3.0

yellowish-orange (see Mimbres polychrome in “Color Evolution�). Just like the standard Mimbres Black-on-white, the polychrome variant uses both geometric and naturalistic designs, however there seem to be more naturalistic designs associated with Mimbres Polychrome. This pottery style was invented towards the end of the Classic Mimbres phase which archaeologists date between 10001130 C.E. At this time, black-on-white Style III was being produced in mass quantities and distributed throughout the Mimbres Valley of southern New Mexico.

specialized in their craft. If you look at the very first painted wares and compare it to the later stages, there is no comparison. Women are presumed to be the ones who painted the pottery since this practice continues today in most pueblos in New Mexico. The skillful quality, which is found on the later stages of Mimbres Black-on-white bowls, is exquisite and has become world-renowned. Unfortunately after 1130 C.E., southwest archaeologists see an end in Mimbres pottery and the rest of the material culture associated with them.

Starting from Mogollon Red-on-brown and ending at Mimbres Black-on-white Style III and Mimbres Polychrome, the Mimbres artists really became

Why did they stop making pottery that depicts animals and humans? That question is still unanswered.


It is interesting as to why the black-on-white bowls lasted for nearly four hundred years and the red or brown variations that came before lasted for a much shorter time. Many changes in material culture, architecture, and social interaction occurred when production of black-on-white pottery began. Anthropologists, archaeologists, and art historians wonder this question as well and much more work needs to be accomplished. The archaeology of the American Southwest – which encompasses Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and parts of northern Mexico – has received much attention since the earliest settlers moved in centuries ago. These settlers were enamored by the monolithic architecture that some of the prehistoric peoples made: such as Pueblo Bonito, found at Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico, and the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, in southwest Colorado. As the business, practice and method of archaeology continues to grow, so does the importance of the study of the material culture and its preservation – which is clearly evident if you walk the deserts and forests of this area. Pottery sherds, chipped stone and even architecture are still visible on the surface after many, many centuries. SEAN G. DOLAN So the next time you are in an art class and do not have the right color crayon or pencil, think of how prehistoric peoples used the natural world to change colors and how you might be inspired to do so as well. a

DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA Sean G. Dolan is a PhD student studying southwest archaeology at the University of Oklahoma. He has worked in CRM throughout the United States and has done field work in Kenya. He is interested in obsidian distribution and ceramic production throughout the southwest as well as paleoBy BermudaQuest pathology and human evolution.


Around 29,000 years ago, during a warm spell between the repeated ravages of the Ice Age, a group of mourners brought a recently deceased young man to an isolated cave on a small rise, which would, one day, be the southern coastline of Wales. Within the cave, they dug a small pit for his body, placing a stone at either end as support for his head and feet. After lowering the man into the earth, possessions were laid upon and around him before the assembled group carried out the final act of the burial. They took copious amounts of red ochre, a natural earth pigment, and sprinkled it liberally over the body. It not only stained the man’s leather clothing deep red but also the body beneath. His remains, initially mistaken for a woman, became the ‘Red Lady of Paviland’, after the cave in which he was found (Aldhouse-Green 2000).



Blood Red Brilliant White MIKE WILLIAMS


Red Ochre Pigment Ochre is also known from other burials during the Paleolithic, such as Dolní Vĕstonice in the Czech Republic, where three bodies dating to around 26,000 years ago lay in a single grave: a woman between two men (Svoboda 2006). Mourners sprinkled red ochre over the heads of the three, and across the groin of the woman, offering a tantalizing possibility for her demise. Perhaps she had died from hemorrhaging during childbirth; the red of the ochre thereby mirroring the blood that drained from her body. Scenes such as this have led some researchers to suggest that ochre did indeed stand for blood, symbolizing the life force that is within all living beings (Marschak 1981; Wreschner 1980). Its use in burials created a continuum from life to death and possibly also reveals people’s understanding and expectation of an afterlife. Left: Yellow ochre (Limonite) Right: Pech Merle ochre cave painting



Many Upper Paleolithic burials in Europe contain ochre pigment (Binant 1991) but its use also dates to far earlier times. People from Blombos Cave in South Africa, around 75,000 years ago, used ochre blocks as the canvas for some of the earliest art in existence (Henshilwood et al. 2002). It is quite possible that the choice of medium was entirely intentional since there are hints that people also ground the pigment for painting. Over time, evidence for ochre use intensifies with its deep red color increasingly used for ornamentation (Watts 1999, 128). People may have even used ochre for body

decoration (Kuhn and Stiner 2007, 46); a badge of belonging denoting to which group an individual originated (Dunbar 1999, 202). But was ochre merely a convenient medium for ornamentation or did it actually stand for something? Before its use in burials, it is difficult to be sure – clearly, people were consciously choosing to use the color red for their decorative designs. Ornamentation developed further during the Upper Paleolithic with people wearing small items on strings or sewn into their clothes (White 2007). Again, it seems likely that these carried a message, not only to which group an individual belonged but also other symbolic associations (Kuhn et al. 2001, 7645). Teeth, for example, were popular during this time and were usually taken from predatory animals rather than prey species (White 1989a, 218). When worn around the neck or sewn into clothing, the teeth may have denoted group affiliation, but the prevalence of predator species suggests they also brought other symbolic properties; the tooth becoming a metaphor for characteristics of the animal, such as defending the group or success in the hunt. But why did people select teeth to wear? After all, it was a long and bloody process to extract them from the jaw of an animal and longer still to prepare them for suspension. But teeth have a property that may have been especially important to people: they are shiny.

Where :: From Blombos Cave, South Africa Age :: The cave artefacts are 75-80,000 years old What was found :: Bifacial points, bone tools, and engraved ochre from M1 and M2 phases Photo credit :: By BermudaQuest Chris Henshilwood | CC-BY-SA 3.0


Brilliant White and Spiritual Power Other materials Paleolithic people used to make ornaments were also shiny, including ivory, mother of pearl, and soapstone. These all share a visual similarity that makes them almost appear to glow. Certain modern-day hunter-gatherers equate such inner brilliance with spiritual power and the Yolngu of northern Australia finely crosshatch their artwork so that it shimmers and glows (Morphy 1989). The glistening nature of Yolngu art – its brilliance – instils it with spiritual power that appears to radiate out from the design. Moreover, such experience is not limited to Yolngu alone. Others who view the art also note its effects and have similar reactions to when they view shimmering water, the sun moving behind a patchwork of leaves, or even when examining the same type of objects worn by Paleolithic people (ibid, 36-38). People are captivated by the brilliance and, fleetingly, are held in its thrall, as if something reaches out and holds them fast. Whilst the encounter can be reduced to a natural neuropsychological response to a complex interplay of stimuli, the effect on people can be akin to a spiritual experience (ibid). Certainly, this is how the Yolngu people interpret brilliance – a spiritual power emanating from the object or art – and this may have been how Paleolithic people also related to shiny objects (Gamble 1999, 329330). Their brilliance contained and radiated spiritual power. The tactile nature of the materials people worked may even suggest that people handled the objects, possibly in an attempt to absorb some of their power (White 1997, 95).

Crafting Ornaments Most of the items Paleolithic people made into ornaments are naturally shiny except one: ivory needed to be polished to uncover its brilliance. Whilst it may seem that this would have put people off using it, this is not the case. Ivory beads, animal models, and even replica hunting weapons proliferate during the Paleolithic and it seems that people were entirely prepared to invest the time needed to make their ivory creations shine. Within two linked graves at Sunghir in eastern Russia, dating to around 24,000 years ago, two children had thousands of ivory beads sewn into their clothes. It’s estimated that each bead took 45minutes to make – meaning the 5,000 beads worn by the girl would have taken in excess of 3,750 hours working time (White 1993, 294). That is the equivalent of a person working 12 hours a day for over 10 months; an incredible investment of time. With the harshness of everyday life, it is hard to understand why anyone would invest so much time in creating ornamentation (or why others would support them whilst doing so), unless actually working with ivory was considered important in its own right. At La Souquette, in France, shells were replicated in ivory before being made into jewelry (White 1989b, 377). It seems ivory brought something to the finished ornament that shells were unable to provide on their own. Since ivory is the only material to require polishing to make it shine, it is possible that this was the crucial stage of production. Like the Yolngu, it is possible that Paleolithic people were polishing ivory objects to


bring out their brilliance, making themselves participants in uncovering the inner power of the item. Making an ivory bead may have even been akin to a spiritual act, uncovering power that would benefit not only the person wearing the object but also the group as a whole. It was therefore beneficial for the community to support these craftspeople for the considerable time they needed to perfect their creations. There is also one final element of the process that may be significant: the polishing agent used to bring out the brilliance of ivory was ochre, the same red earth pigment people sprinkled over the dead (Pfeiffer 1982, 244). Ochre released the brilliance, and potentially also the spiritual power, of ivory. From red came brilliant white.

Buried Shamans The red ochre spread over burials may not have been to symbolize blood or life force but rather a means of bringing forth brilliance and spiritual

power. It may have also referenced the decomposition process of a body whereby the flesh and blood rots to reveal white bone, which, in its raw state, is often shiny. This transformation may have also been apparent when collecting teeth to wear as ornaments. It has been noted that the extraction process was particularly bloody and the teeth would have needed cleaning after removal from the jaw. Any adhering blood would need to be wiped away before the shiny white enamel of the tooth became apparent. At Brassempouy, in France, people even collected and pierced human teeth for suspension (Henry-Gambier and White 2006). Ochre spread over the body may have been connected with such transformation, ensuring that an individual’s spiritual power was released upon death. It is striking that at Sunghir, where the children were effectively covered in ivory beads, and therefore already brilliant, ochre was not spread over the bodies but was added to the

By BermudaQuest MANALAHMADKHAN | CC-BY- 2.0


[PICTURED BELOW] The ivory figurine, Venus of Brassempouy, is one of the earliest realistic representations of the human face. This artefact is around 24-26,000 years old; currently located at the National Archaeological Museum, France.

grave stuffed inside an older human leg bone (White 1993, 289-294). It seems that, whilst mourners considered the presence of ochre to be an important part of the burial assemblage, its usual role in covering the body was not necessary. The presence of ochre in Paleolithic graves, and its potential associations with spiritual power, suggests that the people within those graves may have been considered special in their own right. The man from Paviland had the skull of a mammoth sitting nearby, perhaps watching over his body, and a number of broken ivory rods and bracelets were placed on his chest.

Perhaps the rods were used in the burial ritual, rather like magic wands or, perhaps, more prosaically, they were blanks for cutting beads (Aldhouse-Green 2000, 116-117). Those choosing the burial site may have even considered the cave a special place, perhaps an entrance to the lowerworld, and it is striking that people returned to the site and left objects, possibly as offerings, long after the burial would have been forgotten. A man from Brno, dating slightly later at around 23,000 years ago, had an ivory marionette of a human figure in his grave, with arms and legs joined to the body so that they


The graves of SUNGIR – 200 km east of Moscow, Russia, just outside of Vladimir – are among the earliest known ritual burials. Grave goods included spears, ivory-beaded jewelry, and clothing, along with ochre.

could move independently (Jenílek, Pelísek and Valoch 1959). It is possible that the man used the marionette in magical performances and the addition of a possible drumstick in the grave adds another element to these performances. Similar marionettes are used in other cultures, far removed in time but perhaps not in focus. Inuit people, for example, carve figurines of humans for use in their shamanic rituals (Bancroft Hunt 2003, 14-43). As the Brno man was closely identified with these items (after all, they were confined to his grave) it is possible that he

was a shaman (Oliva 1996) or, at least, the Paleolithic equivalent to a shaman. Brno man also suffered from the bone disease periostitis and this is mirrored by the woman from the grave at Dolní Vĕstonice, who was badly disabled, and also by other Paleolithic graves (Taylor 2002, 216). Why these disabled individuals were singled out for special burial is difficult to discern but shamans from more recent times are often disabled, or suffer debilitating illness, and it is possible that a similar attitude prevailed during the Paleolithic (Lewis 1989, 59-89). Equally, the children at Sunghir are special precisely because they are By BermudaQuest


The Color of Spiritual Power This is a small but representative selection of Paleolithic burials since others seem to share characteristics that make them special. It is plausible that all interred individuals were considered spiritually powerful whilst alive, possibly even the shamans of their com-munities (Aldhouse-Green and Aldhouse-Green 2005, 3241; Williams 2010, 23-26). But while people may have accepted these individuals had power during life, after death, the situation was more ambiguous. Some lay secure with their ritual paraphernalia, and the two Aldhouse-Green, Stephen, ed. 2000. Paviland Cave and the ‘Red Lady’: A Definitive Report. Bristol: Western Academic and Specialist Press. Aldhouse-Green, Miranda and Stephen Aldhouse-Green. 2005. The Quest for the

Shaman: Shape-Shifters, Sorcerers and SpiritHealers of Ancient Europe. London: Thames and

Hudson. Bancroft Hunt, Norman. 2003. Shamanism in North America. New York: Firefly Books. Binant, Pascale. 1991. Les Sépultures du Paléolithique. Paris: Editions Errance. Dunbar, Robin. 1999. “Culture, Honesty and the Freerider Problem.” In The Evolution of Culture, edited by R. Dunbar, C. Knight, and C. Power, 194-213. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Gamble, Clive. 1999. The Palaeolithic Societies of Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Henry-Gambier, Dominique and Randall White. 2006. “Modifications Artificielles des Vestiges Humains Aurignaciens de la Grotte des Hyenes et la Galerie Dubalen.” In El Centenario de la

children at Sunghir dazzled in their layer of ivory beads, but for most it was a final layer of ochre that released such latent power. Perhaps this helped in crossing to the afterlife, or perhaps people thought that it actually kept the dead spirit close, in order to watch over the community. It is striking that many Paleolithic burials were weighted down or were bound, possibly in an attempt to keep the spirit close (Aldhouse-Green and Aldhouse-Green 2005, 41-42; but Hoffecker 2002, 215-217 adds a note of caution and suggests the sample may be unrepresentative).


children; there is no other sign of hereditary hierarchy at this time so whatever singled the boy and girl out as special presumably happened in their lifetime. Perhaps they had the power of prophesy or were considered spiritually important in some other way. That may be why so much effort was undertaken to furnish them with such extravagant grave goods.

Cueva de El Castillo: El Ocaso de los Neandertales, edited by V. Cabrera and F.

Bernaldo de Quiros, 71-88. Madrid: Ministerio de Educacion y Ciencia. Henshilwood, Christopher, Francesco d’Errico, Royden Yates, Zenobia Jacobs, Chantal Tribolo, Geoff. A. T. Duller, Norbert Mercier, et al. 2002. “Emergence of Modern Human Behavior: Middle Stone Age Engravings from South Africa.” Science: 295: 1278-1280. Hoffecker, John F. 2002. Desolate Landscapes: IceAge Settlement in Eastern Europe. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. Jenílek, Jan, Josef Pelísek and Karel Valoch. 1959. “Der fossile Mensch Brno II.” Anthropos 9: 5-30.Kuhn, Steven L. and Mary C. Stiner. 2007. “Body Ornamentation as Information Technology: Towards an Understanding of the Significance of Early Beads.” In Rethinking the Human Revolution, edited by P. Mellars, K. Boyle, O. Bar-Yosef and C. Stringer, 45-54. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs. — Mary C. Stiner, David S. Reece and Erksin

▼ Güleç. 2001. “Ornaments in the Earliest Upper Palaeolithic: New Perspectives from the Levant.”

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 98: 7641-7646. Lewis, I. M. 1989. Ecstatic Religion: A Study of Shamanism and Spirit Possession [Second

Edition]. London: Routledge. Marschak, Alexander. 1981. “On Paleolithic Ochre and the Early Uses of Color and Symbol.” Current Anthropology 22: 188-191. Morphy, Howard. 1989. “From Dull to Brilliant: The Aesthetics of Spiritual Power Among the Yolngu.” Man 24: 21-40. Oliva, Martin. 1996. “Mladopalaeolitický hrob Brno II Jako Příspěvek k Počátkům Šamanismu.” Archeologické Rozhledy 48: 353-384. Pfeiffer, John E. 1982. The Creative Explosion: An Inquiry into the Origins of Art and Religion. New York: Harper and Row. Svoboda, Jiří. 2006. “The Burials: Ritual and Taphonomy.” In Early Modern Human Evolution in Central Europe: The People of Dolní Vĕstonice and Pavlov, edited by Erik Trinkaus and Jiři


It was not the color red that made ochre significant during the Paleolithic but its ability to bring out spiritual power through brilliance. Even kept sealed within the confines of a bone holder as at Sunghir, ochre was a vital component of burial. If these burials were shamans and their spirits had tasks to complete after death, it was a deep red covering of ochre that brought forth their power. Red may be a significant color to us today, and we might readily associate it with blood and the spark that provides life, but to Paleolithic people the color may have been only a means to an end. Blood red brought forth brilliant white and released the latent power it contained. d


In ancient Mesoamerica, jade beads were placed in the mouths of the dead, generally in the mouths of the elite. An example of this is Lord Pacal of Palenque. Jade, presumably, helped the passage of the deceased’s soul into the underworld. Jade was also associated with the gods, creation, dead, and all that was precious.

Mike Williams has an MA and PhD in archaeology from the University of Reading and has written many academic and popular articles on prehistoric belief and shamanism. He is also the author of Prehistoric

Belief: Shamans, Trance and the Afterlife, an exploration of shamanism and belief in the past.

▼ Svoboda, 15-26. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Taylor, Timothy. 2002. The Buried Soul: How Humans Invented Death. London: Fourth Estate. Watts, Ian. 1999 “The Origin of Symbolic Culture.” In The Evolution of Culture, edited by R. Dunbar, C. Knight, and C. Power, 113-146. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. White, Randall. 1989a. “Toward a Contextual Understanding of the Earliest Body Ornaments.” In The Emergence of Modern Humans: Biocultural Adaptations in the Later Pleistocene, edited by E. Trinkaus, 211-231. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. —. 1989b. “Production Complexity and Standardisation in Early Aurignacian Bead and Pendant Manufacture: Evolutionary Implications.” In The Human Revolution: Behavioural and

Biological perspectives in the Origins of Modern Humans, edited by P. Mellars and C. Stringer,

366-390. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. —. 1993. “Technological and Social Dimensions of ‘Aurignacian-age’ Body Ornaments Across Europe.” In Before Lascaux: The Complex Record


Follow him :: @MikesVoice

of the Early Upper Palaeolithic, edited by H.

Knecht, A. Pike-Tay and R. White, 277-299. BocaRaton: CRC Press. —. 1997. “Substantial Acts: From Materials to Meaning in Upper Palaeolithic Representation.” In Beyond Art: Pleistocene Image and Symbol, edited by M. Conkey, O. Soffer, D. Stratmann and N. Jablonski, 93-121. San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences. —. 2007. “Systems of Personal Ornamentation in the Early Upper Palaeolithic: Methodological Challenges and New Observations.” In Rethinking the Human Revolution, edited by P. Mellars, K. Boyle, O. Bar-Yosef and C. Stringer, 287-302. Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs. Williams, Mike. 2010. Prehistoric Belief: Shamans, Trance and the Afterlife. Stroud: The History Press. Wreschner, Erenst E. 1980. “Red Ochre and Human Evolution: A Case for Discussion.” Current Anthropology 21: 631-644.

By BermudaQuest


Even with the passing of time, the ancient tradition – the Day of the Dead – continues in the lives of all Mexican people. This celebration takes place on November 2nd every year. On this day, people visit their deceased relatives and/or build an altar for them. Before the Spanish conquered America in the fifteenth century, this tradition existed in Mesoamerica. A ceremony was held in the ninth month of the Aztec Calendar (around August in our calendar). The god Mictecacihuatl presided over a ceremony on behalf of children and the deceased. Thus began what is tradition, even with the arrival of the Spanish and the branding of “satanic practices.” These cultures did not let the term pagan offend them nor did it end their traditions.

Alfeñiques are sugar skulls placed on altars. People add their names in icing on the foreheads.








KAREN MEZA Currently, the Day of the Dead is one of the traditions that has managed to survive the test of time, and unlike other customs, this one in particular has been strengthened with the passing of the years. The day remains the same, the practice remains the same: only the people have changed. Many of them choose to follow tradition, while many others just let it pass. For many, remembering dates can be very difficult, but others remember with joy those loved ones no longer with them and long for them to return. It's amazing how time does not always destroy things, thoughts and ideals; the things that are meant to be, always will be and that is what builds a culture. Cultures adapt their traditions so these moments live on. Today, many traditions have been lost. If this custom to remember your loved ones has not been lost, it's for a reason. This celebration is less sad, in a way, to remember. Each altar is filled with objects the deceased loved, plus photos of their time on Earth. This tradition is a way to remember what the deceased left those still on Earth. This day is not our day but theirs’. They live on in our hearts– and in the end, that’s what counts. B By BermudaQuest NAVART; SAN JOSE LIBRARY | CC-BY-2.0


Bridezilla has become ubiquitous with the modern American bride. A color description of attitude in the visual of a large radioactive Tyrannosaurus Rex wearing a white lace gown and headdress breathing fire is not traditional. The Celtics wore red to invoke fertility. Romans and early Christians preferred blue to symbolize love, modesty, purity and fidelity.

Medieval European Queens wore white to symbolize deepest mourning. In Paris, the 1393 royal funeral of Leo V, King of Armenia was carried out in white. In 1558, Mary Stuart married Francois , the Dauphin of France in a white gown shocking the French court. In 1559, she wore white, deuil blanc, following the deaths of her father-in-law, mother and husband. The tradition of wearing white to a funeral died out in popularity among royalty at the end of the fifteenth century in Spain, but later resurrected in 1993 by Queen Fabiola of Belgium and in 2004 by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands’ daughters. During the eighteenth century, blue was one of the more popular colors for British and American brides, but red, green, and other colors were worn throughout this period. Most dresses were worn for other social functions after the wedding day. Grace Evans writes of a wedding dress in the Olive Matthews Collection originally worn by Jane Bailey in 1780. The dress was made of cream silk fabric with sparse embroidered pink and light blue flowers in a carefully matched pattern at the front and back. The shoes and hat were the color cream. Clothes of this time period were made by social position and many women wore their wedding dress for other social functions and as a “Sunday best”. Jane’s background suggested that the dress was made specifically for her wedding and the condition suggests that she did not wear it on many other occasions.


◄ Wedding dresses come in every color, yet most choose white…


Queen Victoria wed her cousin Albert of SaxeCoburg in 1840 wearing a white gown. Her popularity and power did not initially set the tradition of the white wedding gown. White was almost impossible to clean and a woman would only be able to wear it once. The industrialization and mass production of textiles lowered the cost of fabrics; however, the cost of making a dress remained high. A woman’s wedding dress continued to serve as her best social dress for many years. Many young women planned for the wedding dress long in advance collecting fabric swatches and deciding on materials. The swatch collections include checks, plaids, paisleys, and other elaborate patterns. For brides, this was an added bonus of ensuring a distinctive dress. Darker colours were favored with women of the American West as practical. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s wedding dress was made from black cashmere, in part because the wedding date was moved up and she already started making the dress for practical occasions. QUEEN VICTORIA IN HER WEDDING GOWN 1854, ROGER FENTON

MODERN DAVID’S BRIDAL IN ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN. David’s Bridal opened in 1950 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Today, they have over 300 stores in 45 states and is the largest American bridal-store chain. DWIGHT BURDETTE | CC-BY-SA 3.0

The 1920’s brought the popularity of the white wedding dress. The mass consumer culture emerged: dresses were shorter and a symbol of a growth in disposable income. Women of all income structures and social positions wore white dresses specifically for the wedding day. Coco Chanel’s wedding dress design was short, white and very popular. The elaborate lace, silk and satin dresses became the trend after World War II. David’s Bridal opened in 1950 and good business sense dictated unique, distinctive and elaborate dresses that were only worn once on the wedding day were made. So why the white wedding dress? In 1849, Louis A. Godey writes in his Lady’s Book that “Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.” This thought probably came from Sarah Hale, the editor, who believed Queen Victoria to be a role model of feminity, morality and intellect. Perhaps custom can cover a bride’s multitude of sins on that special day by wearing white. R By BermudaQuest


Navaho Hooghan Architecture RACHEL PRESTON PRINZ


For as long as I have known of them, I have been calling them the wrong name. Like that vast majority of people I knew, I said Hogan…. as in Hogan’s Heroes. When I was feeling especially connected, I put the emphasis on the end of the word… I’d say Ho-Gaaan. In fact, the traditional roundhouses of the Navaho, or more correctly, the Diné din’é… are actually Hooghan’a’t’ei and these hand-built structures have a sacred history that reaches all the way back to their beginnings as a people. The Navaho call their simple homes hooghan - quite literally - “home.” When they are round in form, they call them hooghan dijooli, or… circular home. Each hooghan has its own name, origin story, song, and purpose. Their stories are told in the winter, when people spend the most time inside together. All hooghan stories start from the story of First Hooghan - a hooghan made by the Diyan din’é (gods)- of white shell beads, abalone, jet and turquoise, the mists of dawn, and colors of sunset… they were made of everything beautiful and richly colored from within the earth or in the sky. From north to south their skin was made of rainbows… and from east to west of sunbeams. Every hooghan is made of this in a spiritual sense, and many are left undecorated to note their sacred spiritual construction. The magic does not end here –according to Navaho stories, when it was determined that First Hooghan was too small to contain all of the gathering, it was extended by blowing on the poles of jewel until the space was sufficiently enlarged! This ceremony was when the first hooghan song was born. Language and tradition are, to indigenous cultures, one of the most exquisite and important aspects of their being. Each sound means something and connects to a certain aspect of the interconnected universe of which we are all participants. So the words they use themselves are holy, calling upon the spirits of place or thing to convey more than just an idea… their words convey a message of honoring the being(s) that existed within the idea before it was known by the people. In hooghan architecture, this manifests in the names of each of the principal structural supports. The first word in each of the 5 names is the word for the cardinal point it occupies (south, west, north), with the suffix ce, meaning “here” or “brought here.” When a hooghan is constructed, each of the parts is serenaded in gratitude for their offering. Thus is born the tradition of the sin, or Sacred Navaho song. In some Navaho tradition stories, the hooghan’s design was influenced by recreating the shape of a beaver lodge.

In one of the first ceremonies of the Navaho THE STORY tradition, when the sun and moon were to be made, OF THE Talking God and First Man sat next to each other in the south of the First Hooghan, and First Woman took a seat in the North. When they are used for HOOGHAN ceremonies, the people still follow this ancient By BermudaQuest way… women sit in the north and men in the south.



A hooghan may be constructed of any combination of trees, branches, reeds, barks, earth, and even textiles – depending on what is available in the immediate area – which means that these structures are bio-climatic. The designs, while somewhat consistent, vary with the available resources and respond to the unique climate variations within the ecosystem, as well as with their age. The most ancient hooghans are actually subterranean pithouses constructed of stone. Hooghans are built on land that is chosen for its wholeness… connecting (or disconnecting) to the elements… on raised platforms that protect from flood, near a source of flowing water for drink, near a good hunting ground or foraging area for food, in the shade of large trees for summer... In some places, more weathertight winter hooghans and summer hooghans, which allow for better ventilation, are used. A hooghan is never, ever constructed in a place where, or constructed of trees that, lightning has struck. Once lightning claims a tree or place, it is lightning’s. Even the

tiniest neighbors and land history are considered – ant mounds, gravesites, and battlegrounds are avoided. In cold weather a small storm-door or portico is often erected in front door to allow a place for storing wet and snowy clothing. Hooghans are constructed according to specific cultural design criteria as well. Their entrance openings face east – towards the rising sun at the equinoxes. There is a deep history of the story of this orientation that reflects back to the origination of Navaho blessingway ceremonies. The logs which act as the main beams in the roof with the poles laid in a clockwise manner with the growing end (the top of the tree or smaller diameter end of the pole) placed towards the east, then south, then west, then north. Each different part of the roof structure is built from different trees, which have been collected from or offered to particular sacred mountains ruled by unique deities. The male and the female are also honored in a unique way in Navaho hooghan architecture Navaho Architecture & Ceremony in Traditional Histories: “The sand-altars—those exquisite symbolic picture-mosaics, made by sprinkling vari-colored sands with consummate skill upon the floor of the medicine hogan, are known to, and appreciated by, but few. Every sign and symbol upon them has a deep and profound spiritual significance; and while, naturally, all the ceremony, its songs included, appears to us as foolish, blind superstition, we should rather be humble than proud when we consider how far from perfect our own religion makes us in our actual daily living.”

— Father Berard Haile, reknown Navaho historian


there are different shapes of hooghan the represent each sex. The traditional male hooghan is the original cone-shaped hooghan designed to represent the Navaho sacred mountain Godernator Knob (Spruce Hill) - the place where, in Navaho tradition, First Man and First Woman found the baby Changing Woman. Here, they erected a hoogan shaped like the mountaintop in which to take care of her. The traditional male hooghan is usually conical in form and supported by five principal timbers which constitute the qoġán tsáȼi, or house frame. There is no standard length for these supports, and thus no standard dwelling size. However, most often piñon trees of 8 to 10 inches in diameter and 10 to 12 feet long are used. Three of the five timbers will terminate in spreading forks, though the last two which are used for the doorway are straight poles. When suitable trees have been cut, they are trimmed, stripped of bark and dressed, then carried or dragged to the site and laid on the ground with their forked ends together, with one log end each

pointing towards the south, west, and north. The two straight timbers are then laid against the north and south timbers and adjusted so the cut ends point generally east. The entire structure is raised into place and the sides between the main supports are filled with pinon and cedar limbs and branches. A layer of cedar bark, very similar to modern cedar shingles, is added. At least 6 inches of earth is placed over the tree roof structure and branch and bark overlayment. An opening doorway between the eastern entrance poles has a flat roof formed of straight limbs or split poles laid closely together with one end resting on the oculus crosspiece and the other end on the door-frame which is lined with a logstick enclosure bound sometimes by yucca rope. A completed hooghan has no chimney - the oculus lets out the smoke. In larger hooghans, the west wall is extended out up to 12 inches as an inset for an interior altar. Their cool earth floors are nearly impenetrable, being compacted to a near-sheen after many years of use.



Dowload the free e-book

Navaho Houses for detailed drawings of hooghan construction.

[ABOVE] Hooghan structures by Cosmos Mindeleff The idea of making hooghans a truly sustainable option in the modern world is not all the far out. Survivalists, students , filmmakers, non-profits and a few architects are studying how hooghans can be reintroduced as a viable housing option.

Despite their elegant and intention-filled design which can withstand the strong winds and rain, with such steeply inclined sides of nearly 45°, this hooghan’s floor area is very small, one must stoop to enter the doorway, and it is often noted that the ceiling is so slow that an average person cannot stand erect in it… which may have led to the demise in using this form– as it is rarely built today. There are other shapes of male hooghan as well - a sweatlodge is a male hooghan as is the square roomed “sun house” hooghan. Healing ceremonies take place within male hooghans. Later, when Changing Woman moved into a house of her own, it was beside MOUNTAIN-AROUND-WHICH-TRAVELING-WAS-DONE, known now as sacred Huerfano Mountain. The mountain is an irregular shaped mesa, which inspired the rounded female hooghan’s hexagonal or octagonal forms. These

Huerfano Mountain :: San Juan, New Mexico This sacred mountain is where Changing Woman lived in her first hooghan and where she gave birth to her warrior twins. This location is considered the “lungs” of the Navaho country.

hooghans have walls made of logs and branches that are laid vertically. Openings between the logs are filled with mud or clay, and their cribbed roof is constructed with logs laid horizontally in a circular layers that reduce in up to the oculus smoke hole, forming a domed roof which is then covered with earth. Female hooghans are used for social festivities, and for mothers and babies. The vast majority of hooghans are built by males and maintained by females, though as in all things, there are instances where this is not the case… in some modern groups, only women build hooghans for women. Traditionally, dying within in a hooghan was discouraged, and if that was to occur, a relative or friend would


ritually place all belongings of the deceased inside the hooghan, then burn and bury the entirety, marking the site with a cairn of rocks. One of the more interesting factors of hooghan design is also one of the most subtle: it is said that the inhabitants should get up and clean the home before the dawn beings see the home. If the dawn beings see trash, they will not feel welcome, and they will not stop in to bring gifts of wealth to the inhabitants. For if there is trash, there must be wealth, and their assistance is not needed! When the hooghan’s construction is complete, and then again before major ceremonies, it is anointed in a sacred ceremony by the medicinecarrier(s) of that family or group. The inherent magic is maintained by the owners and users with a blessing of corn pollen or white corn meal from time to time. While once the hooghans were literally and figuratively ‘home’, many times today the hooghan is a sacred space used only for special ceremonies. This is most often attributable to the requirement by HUD for home insurance to guarantee low-cost home loans on tribal lands. The insurance agencies do not know how to calculate risk for hand-made buildings - an epidemic that affects all indigenous cultures in the US as well as enterprising modern hippies with their earthships and upcycled co-housing projects.9

<— —

RACHEL PRESTON PRINZ — ARCHINIA Rachel Preston Prinz is a passionate advocate of historic preservation. She strives to applying lessons learned in preservation and archaeology to modern bio-regional design. Her work has included forensic architecture, archaeological architecture, the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic structures, re/design for handicapped accessibility, as well as the design of bio-climatic residences and commercial structures for non-profits.

If WE were designing a hooghan for a client today here in New Mexico, in our capacity as architectural designers, we’d design it as an earth-bermed structure to shed our cold north wind and minimize the amount of heating we’d need to provide in winter. An earth-bermed structure will maintain nearly a 56oF inner-earth temperature with no heat, and requires a much smaller heat source to bring it to a comfortable 68oF than a standard surface structure which can get as cold as 38oF. We’d have an operable skylight oculus and a built-in cooking fireplace and chimney on the north. We’d design a stone foundation wall, with insets and niches for storage, sunning benches with great windows, and wooden bookshelves inset into the sidewalls, especially on the north. Books provide great insulation. We’d probably turn the entrance to the southeast instead of the east. That way we’d get better wind draw through the structure (our prevailing winds come from the west and north), and better protection from the snow at the front door (in fact, we’d get south-east sun first thing in the morning, so we’d maximize the natural melting capability of that orientation). We’d use glass doors at both ends and operable removable glazed windows along the sides at the entrance, and make the entry BIG, so we can use it as a source of solar gain in the winter when we’d want that extra heat, as a greenhouse of sorts to start plants in early in the spring, and we’d design it to be used as a shaded screened-in porch in the summer. By BermudaQuest








The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico

focuses on an era of cultural innovation across America. Quetzalcoatl, the patron deity of Mesoamerica, had a strong impact of the way of life in ancient kingdoms of the south. The exhibition at The Dallas Museum of Art, originally shown in a larger version at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), displays 150 artifacts, primarily from the southern kingdoms of ancient Mexico. These artifacts are loans from museums and private collections in Mexico, the United States, and Europe. This is the first largescale exploration of Quetzalcoatl and the southern kingdoms. The exhibition is accompanied by a wonderfully produced catalogue, 100% in color, with photographs and detailed descriptions of the artifacts on display. A copy is available inside the exhibition for reference.



These little-known cultures of southern Mexico, referred to as the Children of the Plumed Serpent, made an alliance during Postclassic and early colonial periods (ca. 1000-1697). These kingdoms resisted repression by the Aztec empire and the Spanish colonizers, partly by developing an International Style of pictorial language spread by a large network of trade. Independent states gained a form of communication with those of other languages.


Queztalcoatl, or Kulkulkan for the Maya (Chichén Itzá), is the legendary founder and ruler of the Toltec culture. Tollan (Tollan-Xicocotitlan, or Tula) was considered an ancestral place of origin for many civilizations of Mexico. Quetzalcoatl was the human incarnation of the plumed serpent. He reigned over Tollan until he was allegedly banished after being corrupted by a rival. The plumed serpent cult was drawn to Tollan and Chichén Itzá, merchants and traders especially. The Toltecs left Tollan and moved to Cholula ca. 1200 CE. The cult of the feathered serpent went with them and traveled to the Nahua, Mixtec, and Zapotec dominated kingdoms of southern Mexico. [PICTURED LEFT] LA PIRAMIDE DE QUETZALCOATL, TEOTIHUACAN, MEXICO © MELANIE E. MAGDALENA


Quetzalcoatl, the serpent covered in Quetzal feathers, began with the Toltec and Maya and expanded to the Mixtec, Nahua, Zapotec and other societies of Mesoamerica. Temples with decorations and offerings of great value – greenstone, gold, turquoise, sea shells, and precious feathers – began associating wealth with this serpent god. In the southern kingdoms, royal homes negotiated favorable marriages in order to obtain more exotic goods they could “give” to their founder. These societies became, and in some areas continue to be, Children of the Plumed Serpent. By BermudaQuest



El Castillo (La Piramide de Kulkul-

kan) served as a temple dedicated The earliest representations of the feathered to the feathered serpent deity serpent appear in the Olmec culture (ca. 1400known as Kulkulkan to the 400 BCE), such as Monument 19 at La Venta, Maya. The pyramid has followed by the people of Teotihuacan 365 steps which is equal to the days (pre-Aztec). The Temple of the Feathered in the Haab’ Serpent (La Pirámide de Quetzalcalendar. coatl), ca. 150-200 CE, is the third largest temple of the site. At the entrance of the exhibition, you’re greeted by a EL CASTILLO, CHICHEN ITZA, YUCATAN, MEXICO – DANIEL SCHWEN | CC-BY-SA 3.0 six-foot tall monument of two feet and a pair of legs cut off at the knees. This monument fragment is the remains of a Toltec warrior atlante from Tollan. After the Toltec people relocated to Cholula, they built a temple for Queztalcoatl that drew away attention from the Great Pyramid, Tlachihualtepetl, built pre-Toltec occupation. RAIN GOD VESSEL MIXTEC STYLE, CA. 1100-1400CE KIMBELL ART MUSEUM, FORT WORTH, TEXAS, USA.

The objects in the exhibition range from monumental sculptures, to ceramics, jewelry, gorget engraved artifacts from Tennessee, textiles, and for the first time the British Museum (London) has allowed the Codex Zouche-Nuttal to cross the Atlantic. Though the Codex is only open to two pages, an is iPad nearby that allows visitors to flip through the pages of this wonderful piece of work from the late Postclassic (ca. 1200-1521 CE). CODEX ZOUCHE-NUTTAL KAIHSU TAI | CC-BY-SA 3.0

The exhibition is laid out chronologically, beginning with the “founding” cities of the network, Tula and Chichén Itzá, then moves into Cholula, “the holiest of cities.” Though the presentation of this beautifully laid out exhibition presents some of this most remarkable craftsmanship of ancient Mexico, the chronological order is somewhat confusing – the descriptions of each section are very spread out and not easily found while stepping through time. However, the tradenetwork established by the southern kingdoms may be proof that the idea of globalization is not as new as we think. >


Watch a tour of LACMA’s exhibition


2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya So, you may have heard about a new, multi-touch interactive book for the iPad is coming out! Dr. Mark Van Stone’s 2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya is the first-of-itskind publication about the 2012 Meme written by an actual Maya scholar. Joined by 14 other Maya scholars, including Dr. Anthony Aveni, Dr. John Carlson, Dr. Susan Milbrath and more, this revolutionary book will leave you dazzled after experiencing 3D animations (one being the Rio Azul masks that are almost 1,000 years old), interactive maps, photo galleries and charts, video interviews, and so much more made possible by Claxton Creative, LLC. So, will the world come to an end on December 21, 2012? There are 195 images in this book that help explain from a scholarly standpoint what the Ancient Maya did and did not predict for December 21, 2012. Dr. Mark Van Stone, one of the world’s most renowned Maya scholars, will be in Tucson, Arizona for Astronomers Society of the Pacific on August 7-8, 2012 and available to talk about his new book exclusive for the iPad.

Click on the video to watch the trailer of this new iBook coming to you in September 2012 If you are interested in booking Dr. Mark Van Stone to talk about 2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, the cool 3D imagery in it, or the countdown to our possible doomsday…

Schedule your Dr. Mark Van Stone talk

Claxton Creative would like to schedule an on-air interview with you and Dr. Mark Van Stone to showcase this new technology that tells the story about the Maya in a way never before possible, and bring some educated, scholarly thought to what was predicted and what was not. By BermudaQuest



By BermudaQuest

Origins | Fall 2012  

Issue 2 of Origins: It's time to rediscover where we came from. From Paleolithic burials to why we wed in white, this issue is packed with c...

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