Archive for April, 2007

Digital Revolution As Agent for Repatriation …

April 30th, 2007 by ejalbright

A writer for El Porvenir in Monterrey, Mexico, suggests that the
digital revolution will enable countries to repatriate manuscripts and
other artifacts that have been lost over the centuries to other

Gustavo Mendoza Lemus says that the effort by Google and others to
digitize the world’s libraries means that lost documents can be
returned to the country of origin, even if it is only a copy. He
quotes Jorge Luis Dueñas, national archivist of Mexico, who said that
digitization will overcome past political or bureaucratic
controversies between nations, and facilitate the “conformation of
history in nations.”

Many of the most important documents related to the history of Mexico
reside in other countries. Many pre-Columbian documents, or those
generated after the conquest, are in repositories in Europe, primarily
in Spain. Digitization, says Luis Dueñas, “will offer the possibility
of integrating the history of all countries, clarifying a process that
would is complicated because many documents exist that are in private

For example the Newberry Library in Chicago has a 1524 manuscript that
contains a descriptive map of Gran Tenochtitlan and a sketch of the
Gulf of Mexico made by the official cartographer of Hernan Cortes.
This map will be part of a special exhibition of maps held this fall
at the Field Museum in Chicago. And the Bancroft Library at Berkeley
holds important documents related to the history of Chichen Itza,
Chiapas, Verapaz, which, if digitized, will be available around the

You can read the article in its entirety here

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Chichen Itza For Sale

April 23rd, 2007 by ejalbright

A real estate company is offering for sale a smidgeon over 200 hectares (almost 500 acres) ?within five minutes? of Chichen Itza. The property, which lies northeast of the archaeological zone and due east of Piste, asks for an opening bid of $9.

Reading the fine print reveals that you can?t win the property for $9. The price is actually $9 per square meter, or roughly $20 million, one assumes in US currency. And if you do bid, ?you are not entering into a contract but merely expressing an interest to buy the property subject to Terms and Conditions.?

According to the sellers, the property is ?excellent for an eco-tourism project,? which is defined as golf courses, golf clubs, hotels, spas, houses, etc. The property has already been approved for ?50 rooms per hectare? and three-story buildings. There is a 6-meter egress into the property, and the approval to hook it up to the regional electrical grid.

Based on a very blurry map on the listing, the property seems to be a consolidation of three parcels, named San Marcos, San Isidro and San Lucia. Comparing the map to satellite photos of the region, the land appears to be undeveloped, devoid even of milpas.

The ancient city of Chichen Itza extended into that area, so there might be ruins on the property, although the advertisement does not say so.

The seller apparently is a company called Investments Del Castillo, and the property is one of two listed. The Web site offers some additional information, explaining that the geology is limestone, flat and stable, not subject to floods because there are no rivers, not seismic because it is not a volcanic zone. Potable water is available at a depth of 25 meters via extraction wells.

Link to eBay auction here.

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Chichen Itza Becomes Political Football

April 20th, 2007 by ejalbright

In his bid to become governor of Yucatan, Xavier Abreu Sierra, the former mayor of Merida, promised to build a highway connecting Chichen Itza with Uxmal, the Diario de Yucatan reported.

Currently tourists who want to visit both sites have to take an indirect route through Merida.

Abreu Sierra spoke in Muna, the closest town to Uxmal, and therefore would be one of the direct beneficiaries of such a highway. Currently, there is only a major highway connecting Muna with Merida. Another highway, less traveled, connects Muna with Felipe Carrillo Puerto to the southeast.

During a previous campaign promise, Xavier Abreu pledged to extend a branch of the Felipe Carrillo Puerto-bound highway that goes to Peto. From Peto, only narrow, secondary roads continue to the northeast. The candidate promised to build a major highway from Peto to Valladolid.

Once that work is completed, there will be three major highways into Muna “so that the tourist can come this way,” Abreu Sierra said.

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How’s My Voting?

April 18th, 2007 by ejalbright

“How’s My Voting?”

April 18, 2007

Is Mexico’s campaign to promote Chichen Itza as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World working? We’ll find out May 7.

The organizers behind naming the new world wonders announced recently that they will release preliminary voting statistics on May 7 and again on June 7. The voting will close and the seven wonders will be announced on July 7–7/7/07.

Unofficial word is that the campaign is working and Chichen has bettered its position from one of the second 7 to one of the coveted top 7. But that is unofficial. The truth will be known in three weeks.

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Children of Sacrifice

April 17th, 2007 by ejalbright

Did they or didn’t they? Only their hairdresser knows for sure.

In the case of the children of Tula, were they ritually decapitated (certainly a detail that even the worst hairdresser could not miss)? A month ago construction workers near Tula discovered a mass grave containing the decapitated skeletons of 24 children aged 5 to 15, according to Reuters.

Tula is believed to have been the capital city of the Toltecs, and either was the model for, or was later built to evoke the ancient Maya city of Chichen Itza, which fell under Toltec rule sometime after the 10th century.

Luis Gamboa, an archaeologist, told the news service that the victims had been buried with a small statue of Tlaloc, the rain god. “To try and explain why there are 24 bodies grouped in the same place, well, the only way is to think that there was a human sacrifice,” he told Reuters.

At Chichen Itza, people were sacrificed to Chaac, the Maya rain god, by casting them into the Sacred Cenote. Many of the skeletons recovered from the cenote were of children.

Read the entire story about the Tula discovery here.

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Chicxulub Asteroid No Help to Mammals

April 10th, 2007 by ejalbright

For years the theory has been that mankind rules the planet earth today thanks to the Chicxulub asteroid which crashed into the earth 65 million years off of what is today the coast of Yucatan. That cataclysm wiped out the reigning species, the dinosaur, and allowed mankind’s mammalian ancestors to take over the planet.

Turns out the theory is crap.

The Chicxulub asteroid or comet not only wiped out the dinosaurs, according to the theory, but it also created the geologic conditions that created cenotes, such as the Cenote Sagrado at Chichen Itza, and also the oil reserves found beneath the Gulf of Mexico.

While there is no disputing something wiped out most of the dinosaurs around the time of the asteroid/comet, the theory that mammals used that opportunity to take over has been disproved-for now. Specifically, scientists have postulated that once the dinosaurs were out of the way, mammals evolved at explosive rates, and in their diversity adapted to live in all habitable sections of the earth. However, researchers from around the world proved that after Chicxulub, mammals had already made their move, but their growth as a class of animal life did not occur until 10 million years later.

Using DNA modeling technology, scientists have been able to prove that the class mammalia evolved and split into its major subgroupings long before the extinction event, which is called the K-T Boundary. They also proved that these groups remained relatively constant until a later wave of evolution 55 million years, a period of global warming. “Most orders of placental mammals – what I mean by that is cats and bats and whales and people – appear at the Eocene,” said Dr Rob Asher of the University of Cambridge. Furthermore, not all dinosaurs species disappear after the K-T boundary. “There was a period of several million years at the end of this period which witnessed several extinctions of non-avian dinosaurs. So the old textbook idea that at the K-T boundary dinosaurs disappeared and mammals appeared is a bit of a straw man.”

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Escaping Cuba Through Chichen Itza

April 9th, 2007 by ejalbright

Over the past two years, the number of Cubans fleeing the home country to Mexico has tripled, according to Mexican military sources. The refugees are evading authorities by posing as tourists going to Chichen Itza.

According to El Universal, many Cubans are escaping the island in first class accommodations. Earlier this year, the movie star Giovanni Valladares Ramirez, formerly of Cuba, has supposedly been transporting his fellow countrymen from Cuba to Cancun ina luxury yacht. The yacht belongs Jose Perez Osomo of Holbox.

Apparently yachts and other luxury craft are regularly smuggling Cubans between the island and Cancun, Isla Mujeres or Cozumel. The Cubans are picked up at sea, given tourist garb such as Bermuda shorts and sport shirts, and provided with fake documentation such as passports and tourist cards. Once they reach Mexico, they are transported to tourist buses to be taken by ground to the United States.

If they are stopped by authorities, the Cubans are instructed to say they are headed to Chichen Itza or Merida, depending upon where they are stopped.

As a public service, the Mexican government should consider publishing comic book all about Chichen Itza, so if stopped these refugees can speak intelligently about the ancient city as if they had just been there.

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Tourism by the Numbers

April 5th, 2007 by ejalbright

Slightly more than four of five international visitors to Yucatan would recommend a similar vacation to a friend, according to a study by Redes Turismo released by the state department of tourism. “Sistema de Inteligencia Competitiva-Yucat?n” reports on Yucatecan tourism for 2006.

An 82.1 percent approval rating, while good, falls short of other comparable tourist destinations, which more frequently rate in the low 90s percentile. This becomes even more critical when one considers that the way most tourists learn of Yucatan is from friends and relatives.

What people like most about the region is the amiability of Yucatecans, followed by the archaeological zones, the food, the beaches, the culture and the beaches, in that order. Apparently what the tourists did not like about Yucatan was the heat (not much can be done about that), dirty streets, downtown traffic in Merida, the expensive transportation (?) and the poverty of the region.

The most critical statistics for this blog are of visitors to Chichen Itza. The report says that 2 million people visit every year. However, 62 percent of the visitors to Yucatan are of national origin; less than 10 percent originate from the United States. If we can extrapolate from those figures, that means 200,000 people per year who visit Chichen are from the US.

Fortunately, the survey found that most visitors from the US earn more than $50,000 per year, and therefore can afford a $25 book.

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El Castillo No Solar Calendar, Expert Claims

April 4th, 2007 by ejalbright

El Castillo, Chichen Itza’s temple to Kukulcan, is not a solar calendar as some claim, according to a faculty member at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan.

There are 91 steps rising up the face of El Castillo, which some believe equate to one-quarter of the solar year. By that theory the four staircases equal 364, and when adding the platform on the top makes 365, the number of days in a year. But Jose Roman Moguel Roberts, a specialist in Anthropology, believes that theory is wrong.

In a recent edition of Milenio, Moguel Roberts explained that “the number 91 is from the sum of the 13 days of the Bucxok, that the Chilam Balam de Man? repeats 20 times, giving a total of 1820.

“He explained as well that the number 91, divided between the 13 days of the sacred account, gives the result of seven, which is the number of isosceles triangles of light that project on the north face of the pyramid when the spring and autumn equinoxes occur.

“In the same way, he said, 1820 divided by 91 gives 20, which are the number days in the Maya month …

“Also, he indicated, 1820 divided by the 260 days of the Bucxok calendar gives like result of seven, the number of the triangles. The division of 1820 by the 52 years, in which the first day of the Bucxok returns to its original position, is 35.”

No word yet on whether Moguel Roberts’ discovery has altered the very face of Maya mathematics. I consulted an expert on Maya math, who told me that Moguel Roberts’ discovery “was BS … that’s what I and other catty folks call FM–F***ing Math.”

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Follow-up: Mexico to Mel Gibson–‘No Thanks!’

April 3rd, 2007 by ejalbright

Some Mexicans want nothing to do with Mel Gibson after he cursed at a latina professor following a showing of Apocalypto last month at California State University at Northridge.

Sara Zapata-Mijares, president of the Federacion de Clubes Yucatecos, told La Opinion that her group was planning to approach Gibson to seek his public support to name El Castillo in Chichen Itza one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The group has now decided to have nothing to do with the actor/director after last month’s confrontation with Professor Alicia Estrada. Estrada, who according to witnesses harangued Gibson for several minutes following a special screening of Apocalypto, was told by the actor to “f*** off” and to “make her own movie.”

“We wanted to meet with him [Gibson] before film was released, because we were moved that it was going to speak of our people, our culture and in our language, and we wished to have the opportunity to see some scenes,” Zapata-Mijares said. The group contacted Gibson’s representatives, but never received a reply. “I imagine that Mr. Gibson is very occupied.”

The group was going to approach him again, this time for his help to promote Chichen, but after the Estrada incident, decided against it.

There has been no comment from the Gibson camp.

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