from Chapter 5: Maya Moment
“At Tikal, I shook with fear walking up the Temple steps. The goal was to watch the sunset from the top and then get back down to the ground before dark. To add to my frustration, a young man passed me trotting along like the steps weren’t tall, uneven and crumbly.
A Spanish team was spending one million dollars there to dig out a building called Temple V that was built circa 150 B.C. Eighty percent of the buildings at Tikal have not been excavated. The Maya built symmetrically so you can guess what one side of the lot looks like when you uncover the other side. I’m told archeologists prefer to unearth different types of buildings rather than repeat structures.
Tikal was settled in 600 B.C. and had a population of at least two hundred thousand in its heyday. Did they even dream someone like me would climb the temple steps? I hear they used a lot of opium for the religious rites so who knows what visions they had.
There were many steles at Tikal. One stele from 771 A.D. showed the twenty-ninth and last ruler of the Jaguar Dynasty. He had an elaborate headdress with ear flares (fluted cylinders hanging from his ears past the headdress) to help him hear better. I could understand why he was the Dynasty’s last ruler; he had that Louis XVI over-the-top look. These steles were taller than me and were originally painted red. The Teotechuan introduced human sacrifice to this part of the Petan when they conquered Tikal.
On the sacrificial tablets (short stone cylinders about eighteen inches high and four feet in diameter) placed in front of each stele were carvings of unfortunate people ready for being ‘sacrificed.’ Were they volunteers? Did they win the lottery? Were they unable to pay their debts? The word is they were ‘captives.’ These captives were bound sort of semi-scrunched on their backs and then their hearts were removed. The blood was collected and smeared on the altar. After a day, the bodies were cleared and burned but the blood was left. Much incense was burned to cope with the stench. There were bath houses outside the temple area because one needed to bath before entering the temple area for a bloody ceremony.”
Buy it. Read it. Let me know what you think. –TMLL