Things That Matter

Scientists Finally Confirmed The Authenticity Of The Oldest Book Mayan Book Ever Discovered

CREDIT: RT AMERICA / YOUTUBE

For years, scientists weren’t sure whether the Grolier Codex, a 600-year-old book supposedly written by the Mayans, was real or a very detailed fake. When the Spanish came to America, they thoroughly destroyed the Mayans’ written works, making it easier for Europeans to spread their religion and culture in the New World. As a result, pre-Columbian Mayan writings are exceedingly rare. So when this particular codex was discovered in the 1960s, researchers had several reasons to doubt its authenticity.

If real, the Grolier Codex would be the oldest surviving book in the new world, and only the fourth surviving pre-Columbian Mayan work ever discovered.

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CREDIT: NEW YORK TIMES / ACADEMIA

The book surfaced when “pothunters,” looters who sold antiquities for profit, sold it to Dr. Josué Sáenz in 1965. Because it was “discovered” by looters, researchers were doubtful that the book was legitimate, but they kept it safe so they could do the proper research. After many years of scrutiny and doubt, advancements in dating technology made it possible for researchers to prove the validity of the book. In late 2015, scientists were finally able to put their money where their mouth was.

Researchers put the book’s creation at 1230, C.E., meaning the Grolier Codex is well over 700 years old.

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CREDIT: ELECTRIC SCIENCE NEWS / YOUTUBE

Before modern radiocarbon dating techniques, researchers only had a few clues pointing in the direction of the Grolier Codex’s authenticity. The materials and pigment used to create the prints suggested it was real, but a good forger could easily replicate these things. And when you consider the Grolier Codex’s dubious discovery (looters found it in a cave near Tortuguero), anything less than a rigorous scientific confirmation would lead researchers to doubt. Though some debate still exists around the document’s validity, historical heavyweight Smithsonian has endorsed the document after the latest round of testing.

So what is the Grolier Codex?

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CREDIT: ELECTRIC SCIENCE NEWS / YOUTUBE

The document was named after the venue where it was first displayed: the Grolier Club in New York. The 11-page artifact offered a glimpse into how much astrology affected Maya religion. As Dr. Michael D. Coe told the New York Times in 1971, “The Codex shows us for the first time that the Mayas considered all four phases of the Venus cycle to be equally malevolent and threatening to human welfare.” Thanks to the efforts of the scientific community, scientists have finally given back some of the history that was so violently taken from Mayan culture.


READ: Scientists Just Discovered 500-Year-Old Mexican Manuscript

These Mayan Women Are Reclaiming Their Heritage And Designing The Coolest Products Ever

Things That Matter

These Mayan Women Are Reclaiming Their Heritage And Designing The Coolest Products Ever

Amir Rodrigues / Unsplash

Much has been said about the vulnerable position that indigenous populations in general, and indigenous women in particular, are in when it comes to protecting the intellectual property derived from their traditional designs.

The Mexican Congress recently passed a law through which companies that steal designs from indigenous communities will be subject to hefty fines. The culprits are generally big international brands such as Zara and Carolina Herrera, which should know better when it comes to presenting designs as their own when they are clearly very “heavily inspired” by the work of craftspeople who earn a small fraction of what they should, only to see their designs being sold in hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

So it comes as a welcome surprise to find out some indigenous Mayan women have gotten together to profit from their millenary wisdom and dexterous hands to launch a startup that promises to become a way of living for many of them. 

An entrepreneur, una jefa de jefas, named Nancy Zavala launched a small company, Zavy, that employs Mayan women.

The company’s mission is to help women achieve financial independence through their work. Zavala knows that the key in a small company is specialization and they have focused on a particular product: camera straps. So far 20 women have joined Zavy. As Zavala told El Universal, these women feel a sense of accomplishment as their children see them work and their husbands, who previously “did not allow them” to do so, now also want to help. Women from other Mayan communities have approached Zavala, wanting to join in.

This is a great step for many Mayan women who not only live in an environment with very clearly and strictly demarcated gender roles, but are also part of an indigenous group in Mexico that has historically been discriminated against. Zavala put her heart, soul and money in this enterprise: the first straps were produced entirely with her savings.

Their camera straps are garnering attention among semi professional and professional circles.

The craftswomen receive 50% of the profits and the rest is reinvested in the company to buy materials and strengthen their web presence. They have been able to sell to Mexico. the United States and some Latin American countries. These camera straps are seriously cool and we can see any professional photojournalist use them…. Pero por supuesto.

We did a search on Etsy and found that plenty of pages not run my Mayans are selling “Mayan camera straps.” They either copy the design or “repurpose” other artefacts such as belts or clothing with traditional Mayan embroidery. This is like adding insult to injury: they are reselling objects that took hours for someone to make and sell for a fraction of what these repurposed straps sell on Etsy. This is why initiatives such as Zavala’s are so important. 

Nancy founded Zavy to honor her Mayan heritage.

Nancy was born in the small community of Saye and she grew up watching her grandmother make blouses, shirts and other products in the traditional Mayan style. But she knew that in order to achieve financial independence she had to study. And so she went to university and became one of the members of the 1% of indigenous Mexicans who finish a graduate degree. She got a Bachelors in Project Development, a huge achievement in and of itself. But her journey did not end there and she wanted to inspire other women and get them to be independent as well. And so Zavy was born.

Nancy is 28 years old now and she is doing her Master’s degree in Merida, the capital of her home state of Yucatan. We are sure she will keep using her knowledge to empower indigenous women. 

And Zany is just one among other initiatives that aim to help Mayan communities.

With some classmates, Nancy established a foundation that helps communities develop through applying their traditional knowledge into businesses. In addition to Zany, Nancy and her friends helped Mayan communities establish Biozano, a company that produces natural, organic makeup. 

Some of the women had to drastically change their careers due to unfortunate accidents.

Such is the case of Cecilia Dzul Tuyb, who used to be a police officer before a car crash prevented her from walking for several months. She was risking depression but found solace in traditional knitting. She was contacted by Nancy Zavala and the rest, as they say, is history: Cecilia has found a community of fellow women who do not want to depend economically on anyone else and who value their independence.

Archaeologists Unearthed An Ancient Mayan Palace, Bodies And Other Treasures—The Site Is Over 1000 Years Old

Culture

Archaeologists Unearthed An Ancient Mayan Palace, Bodies And Other Treasures—The Site Is Over 1000 Years Old

INAHMX / Instagram

Archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered the remains of a large Mayan palace over 1,000 years old in an ancient city about 100 miles west of the popular beach destination, Cancún. Researchers believe the palace was an “enclave” of the famous Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, in the Yucatan province. Here’s everything we know about it.

The site, Kulubá , was identified as a palace after workers uncovered the base, staircases and a crossing.

The building of 55 metres, 15 metres wide and six metres high, appears to have been made up of six rooms, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History. It is thought to be part of a larger complex that also includes two residential rooms, an altar and a large round oven. Archaeologists have also uncovered remains from a burial site, and hope forensic analysis of the bones could provide more clues about Kulubá’s Mayan inhabitants.

Researchers from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) believe the palace was an “enclave” of the famous Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá.

“It was in the Terminal Classic period when Chichén Itzá, upon becoming a prominent metropolis in the northeast of the present Yucatán, extended its influence over sites such as Kulubá,” said archaeologist Alfredo Barrera Rubio. “From the data we have and ceramic materials of the Chichén and obsidian type from the same sources that provided this Mayan city, we can infer that it (Kulubá) became an Itzá enclave,” he added.

Experts believe that the palace was in use during two overlapping eras of Mayan civilisation, in the late classical period between AD600 and AD900, and the terminal classical between AD850 and AD1050.

“We know very little about the architectural characteristics of this region, the north-east of Yucatán. So one of our main objectives, as well as the protection and restoration of cultural heritage, is the study of the architecture of Kulubá,” said Barrera in a video made on the site. “This is just the start of the work. We are only just uncovering one of the largest structures on the site.” INAH archaeologists hope that Kulubá will become a natural attraction for visitors to the region, in the same way that tourists can visit Chichen itzá and Tulum ruins.

By examining the bodies found in the site of Kuluba, experts hope to learn more about Mayan people.

Bodies discovered during the uncovering of the palace will also be examined, and the INAH said future anthropological examinations could determine the sex, age, pathologies and even the habits of those Mayans.

The Mayans built one of the greatest civilisations of the western hemisphere.

The Mayan empire flourished across central America including what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. Their cities featured pyramid temples and huge stone buildings, and they used agriculture and metalwork, developed sophisticated irrigation systems and invented a hieroglyphic writing system.

But Mayan society suffered a precipitous and mysterious decline between AD800 and AD1000. Scientists have suggested war, climate, disease and politics as possible causes, although cities including Chichén Itzá – which the archaeological dig suggests controlled Kulubá – flourished longer.