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Lord of the Rainy Sky


Steveh
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Current theory holds that Teotihuacan, Tikal, Monte Alban, Copan and the other great pre-Columbian sites were not cities but “ceremonial” sites. Archaeologists argue this because in all the massive construction at the sites there is no housing for the masses as in modern day cities. So these great complexes have been labeled “ceremonial centers,” suggesting that they were only used for religious rituals. When you look at any one of the sites, with their vast extent of complex architecture, it becomes patently ridiculous that all that labor was expended at the whim of the mystical pre-Columbian clerics. There must have been some greater reason in to gather all those thousands of stones and tons and tons of earth that went into these towering pyramids, courtyards and causeways. On that first visit to Teotihuacan, I realized something was wrong with the “ceremonial” designation.

After years of visiting these sites and reading voraciously on the subject, I have come up with an answer to that question, first asked on a hot dry day at Teotihuacan. It amazes me that the professional archaeologists appear to be unaware of the real function of these vast “ceremonial” centers. I am convinced that a basic function of pre-Columbian architecture, as currently defined, is a gross misconception. Therefore, I feel compelled to offer a solution this intriguing riddle: What was the true function of these vast pre-Columbian ruins? I have come up with six arguments that, taken together, fully explain the function and grandeur of the ancient American ruins like Teotihuacan, Tikal, Monte Alban, Copan and Machu Picchu.

IMG_9874.jpg?resize=321%2C321

In a glyph from the Codex Nuttall, one of the few pre-Columbian books to survive, water gushes from the temple.

Hydrology was the key. Very careful management of the natural water cycle at each of the great centers scientifically gathered water into a system of reservoirs and canals. The city centers were not simply “ceremonial sites” but giant water gathering machines. These temples, pyramids and “plazas” provided all the water necessary to maintain large populations. Water was a God. The sites held and distributed the sacred water and only in that sense were they “ceremonial” sites.

I have divided my argument into six hypotheses.

  • Pyramids and “plazas” gathered and held water for basic human needs.
  • They maintained water to defend the sites.
  • They provided a multitude of aquatic foods.
  • They distributed water for agriculture.
  • There was water for recreation and the sacred ball game.
  • There was water for safety, convenience, and for its sheer beauty.

I will expand on each of these points in the following pages. This solution I offer may be difficult to accept because the entire pre-Columbian race has been relegated to second class status by our dominant European culture. Winners always write the history books. The losing side’s rationale is often impossible to reimagine as the victors must justify their brutal genocide. A bias has been created against pre-Columbian culture as the work of “ignorant idolators” who deserved to be wiped out by “civilized” Europeans. When one is raised with the mores of the Christian West, it is almost impossible to get back to the pre-Columbian cosmos and understand that water was held sacred, as much a God as the Christian Creator. This God was known as Chaac to the Mayans, Tlaloc to the Aztecs and Illapa to the Incas: The Lord of the Rainy Sky.

Please continue reading at <precolumbianarchitecture.com>

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Howdy Steveh, welcome to Um .

Well, this looks interesting so far :tu:

A reasonable first assumption :yes: ( we be plagued by some rather outrageous first assumptions lately about ancient peoples / civilisations ) .

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Welcome to UM, Steveh :st That's a very interesting first post.

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Each area of the Mayan world had to deal with water differently in the south they had too little in the north too much.

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Current theory holds that Teotihuacan, Tikal, Monte Alban, Copan and the other great pre-Columbian sites were not cities but “ceremonial” sites. Archaeologists argue this because in all the massive construction at the sites there is no housing for the masses as in modern day cities....

That's contrary to what I've read;

http://wideurbanworld.blogspot.com/2014/10/living-good-life-in-teotihuacan.html

"There are over 2,000 apartment compounds at Teotihuacan."

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That's contrary to what I've read;

http://wideurbanworl...eotihuacan.html

"There are over 2,000 apartment compounds at Teotihuacan."

The central areas were ceremonial but the habitation sites were around the edges except for Machu Picchu which was built on much more restricted crown mixed the sacred with the profane

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Welcome Steveh

The sites being involved with water is an old idea. We were discussing Maya water management in the mid 1970s.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12685-012-0069-4#/page-1'>http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12685-012-0069-4#/page-1

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12685-012-0069-4

http://www.jstor.org/stable/971991?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

However I look forward to your ideas

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Interesting idea, and well presented on the site. The images on the main precolumbianarchitecture.com page show people paddling around their reservoirs in canoes. Is this derived from any artwork? Would the water have eroded the edges of the pools? In the pictures shown, the corners at the base of the "pool" are still quite well-defined.

More questions to come as I think of them.

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Interesting idea, and well presented on the site. The images on the main precolumbianarchitecture.com page show people paddling around their reservoirs in canoes. Is this derived from any artwork? Would the water have eroded the edges of the pools? In the pictures shown, the corners at the base of the "pool" are still quite well-defined.

More questions to come as I think of them.

It is well presented but has a significant problem rain water pools if left quickly stagnate and evaporate. His own images show the existing pools elsewhere have gone scummy. The main water supply for the Maya in the Yucatan was from underground rivers which were fairly easy to access. A standing pool would be excessive dangerous to use which is why people didn't do that until modern times.

Storing the rainwater for drinking later means SSS. (Safe, solid and sealed). Safe, is water that comes into the storage facility after being fully filtered. Solid, is water that cannot escape or cannot be tainted by anything from outside the container (hence the word solid). Sealed, is water that does not float away due to evaporation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_stagnation

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I propose that the ground water was deliberately wicked up while, at the same time, the rain cycle was amplified. There is no question of stagnant water. These sites bubbled and flowed year round.

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I propose that the ground water was deliberately wicked up while, at the same time, the rain cycle was amplified. There is no question of stagnant water. These sites bubbled and flowed year round.

No problem with rain I've worked in the Yucatan and have seen it rain! However what do you mean by 'wicked up'? That implies pumps or bucket brigades for which I am unaware of any evidence for. Could you explain please? The Spanish make no mention of this when they first encountered the Maya cities that were still functioning and when the last Maya city fell in 1697 there was again no mention of this.

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No problem with rain I've worked in the Yucatan and have seen it rain! However what do you mean by 'wicked up'? That implies pumps or bucket brigades for which I am unaware of any evidence for. Could you explain please? The Spanish make no mention of this when they first encountered the Maya cities that were still functioning and when the last Maya city fell in 1697 there was again no mention of this.

I am not sure about the "wicked up groundwater" concept either. There are some complementary methods to go with their recognized earthworks such as mulching to retain and increase soil moisture content while maintaining adequate drainage.

Cahokia, made of a highly expansive clay in an area with a shallow water table also has layers of sand designed into it breaking capillary action and allowing proper drainage but maintained the clay at a relatively constant moisture level for stability.

Many "modern Permaculture" techniques can actually be traced back as replicas/adaption of methods used in antiquity. Terracing, swales, milpas, and chinampas are a couple that are easily recognizable.

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Many "modern Permaculture" techniques can actually be traced back as replicas/adaption of methods used in antiquity. Terracing, swales, milpas, and chinampas are a couple that are easily recognizable.

Sure are but he seems to be talking about large standing bodies of water. Let wait and see what his full idea is.

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Sure are but he seems to be talking about large standing bodies of water. Let wait and see what his full idea is.

He is also talking about a very widespread amount of cultures and environments. You have high altitude Andean Cultures dealing with moderating water flow to prevent erosion, raised earthworks in Amazonian Savannah areas which flood seasonally then turn to pasture (not implying domesticated animals where no evidence is shown but such areas would provide excellent hunting areas. After that you move into the rainforest which shows evidence of anthropogenic manipulation. There is also the site in the Peruvian desert. Notice we are still south of the Yucatan with these varied conditions and have not even touched on the different cultures yet including (but not limited to) the Wari, Tiwanaku, and later the Inca. Not only do the cultures span geography in South America, there are period differences spanning millennia.

Single categorization of water management techniques spanning such diversity seems as futile as all the disparate groups lumped into the "Amerindian Language" category...

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I explained this concept of "wicked up" water in the first section of the paper "Lord of the Rainy Sky." You can read it at <precolumbianarchitecture.com> in the section titled "Why are They Shaped Like This?" I appreciate your thoughtful response.

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Yes, I am painting with some very broad strokes but this is where the research lead. The sites in the Peruvian deserts, Machu Picchu, Teotihuacan, Tikal and Monte Alban all exhibit the same characteristics of major waterworks demonstrated "live" at Tenochitlan. Take a second to read through the entire paper. I am so glad to have these discussions.

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You said that NatGeo dismiised your claim as "entirely too fanciful." Did they offer any justification for this statement? What sort of counter-arguments have you heard, if any?

Do you have any timeline for the development of the reservoir structure? Who started building them first, and did the idea spread, or did everyone come up with the idea independently?

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Nice to hear a new idea. I have to say I can't see the reason you would suppose that things like the pyramids at Teotihuacan would be built to collect water. I've traveled to Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, and Tikal. None of them look like places to collect water. I saw the nice paintings at your website and the illustrations show waterfalls on the pyramids. I can't see that happening. Have you seen waterfalls plummeting down pyramids?

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Yes, I am painting with some very broad strokes but this is where the research lead. The sites in the Peruvian deserts, Machu Picchu, Teotihuacan, Tikal and Monte Alban all exhibit the same characteristics of major waterworks demonstrated "live" at Tenochitlan. Take a second to read through the entire paper. I am so glad to have these discussions.

Of course I like your site, thread, and research and find it quite impressive. I even suspect

you're far more right than wrong.

This being said I'm unsure how significant amounts of water can be wicked up even a small

fraction of the height of these pyramids. It seems that to lift so much water through capillary

action it would require plant materials and these would probably have left voids after they rot-

ted away.

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Nice to hear a new idea. I have to say I can't see the reason you would suppose that things like the pyramids at Teotihuacan would be built to collect water. I've traveled to Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, and Tikal. None of them look like places to collect water. I saw the nice paintings at your website and the illustrations show waterfalls on the pyramids. I can't see that happening. Have you seen waterfalls plummeting down pyramids?

I worked five summers at sites around Merida and the Yucatan and remember seeing the pyramids in the rain = obviously the water did not cascade down as in our OP's images nor was any type of piping or channels found. While the idea is endearing I see no evidence for it in the archaeology or written accounts of the time.

Stagnate water in such a climate is not of great use when underwater rivers are a far better source.

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The majority of any river is underwater, isn't it?

Harte

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I worked five summers at sites around Merida and the Yucatan and remember seeing the pyramids in the rain = obviously the water did not cascade down as in our OP's images nor was any type of piping or channels found. While the idea is endearing I see no evidence for it in the archaeology or written accounts of the time.

I thought the Spanish did a fairly thorough job of destroying the native writings? Has anyone accurately deciphered the Inca system of knots?

Stagnate water in such a climate is not of great use when underwater rivers are a far better source.

See Hartes comment...

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The majority of any river is underwater, isn't it?

Harte

Ha ha oops underground of course........

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I thought the Spanish did a fairly thorough job of destroying the native writings? Has anyone accurately deciphered the Inca system of knots?

I meant the writing of the Spanish themselves and later native and the later new generation of local commentators

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I've been to Tikal twice and it rained each time. Did not notice any trickles of water running down the pyramids other than the normal dripping I see off exposed rock.

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