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MEXICO

Ancient Mayan/Aztec Bones


By Jheri


     Mexico is timeless—ancient, turbulent, mysterious, and its geography sometimes involves tongue-twisting words. Ancient, because as early as 3500 B.C. history records a diet of beans, squash and domesticated turkeys in these lands. And ancient, because the Mayan civilization was begun in 2600 B.C. in the Yucatan Peninsula, the southernmost dogleg of the Mexican continent, nearly 5,000 years ago. Turbulent, because the variously sere, tropical, and rain-forested lands of Mexico have belonged to Toltecs, Olmecs, Aztecs, Spanish, and the USA. Mysterious, because how could the Aztec or Mayan people—advanced in art, sculpture, music, dance, architecture (Great Pyramid of the Sun 300 B.C.), and the writing of poetry—sacrifice and dine on large numbers of slaves, prisoners and captives taken in war? Examples of the unpronounceable include the name of the capital of the Aztec/Mayan lands, Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City); Popocatépetl, Ixtachihuatl, Citlaltepetl (volcanic mountains); and Tlalneopantla, Ixmiquilpan, Tres Picos Pijijiapan (cities).

     So it was to this historical tapestry that Ben Cufone, our soil collector in Mexico, came when he visited Chichen Itza and Tuluum, Mexico, on the Yucatan peninsula. As he used his hands to pick up the soil, within view of deserted, deteriorated large cut limestone block pyramids, surrounded by jungle growth, he wondered if bone dust was part of his collection. Living quarters, temples, altars, tombs, statues and astronomical observatories (for the Mayan calendar) evoked those images of human sacrifice. Perhaps the spirits of the victims or ancient priest-kings watched from above (or below) as he prepared his contribution for Common Ground 191.

     Mexico has a rich, diverse, “culinary” history and a bright future. Because of the discovery of oil reserves there, the economy of Mexico, long Third-World, may soon expand into a leading force of the 21st century. And Common Ground 191 may initiate a new tongue and lingua franca of peace through the transformation of this small bit of its soil.

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