Archive for April, 2008

Disney Does Mesoamerica

April 29th, 2008 by ejalbright

Here’s a Disney short about the Maya and other Mesoamerican cultures, focusing on the discovery and cultivation of corn. Not sure how accurate it is, but it’s a great little film.

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Daughter of Chichen Itza Owner Speaks

April 28th, 2008 by ejalbright

Maruja Clarke (neé Barbachano Herrero), granddaughter of Fernando Barbachano Peon, who bought Chichen Itza in the mid 1940s, was interviewed four years ago by a UK couple who call themselves The Antiquarian Society. The interview went up last weekend on Youtube.

There are six parts. Here is Part 1:

You can see the find the other five parts of the interview HERE.

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Chichen Itza Fotographia, April 27, 2008

April 27th, 2008 by ejalbright


A collection of digits at Chichen Itza from Flickr.

Hands 1
By chewidude.

Hands 2
Templo Del Barbado, by goozey.

Hands 3
By Ana Rana.

Hands 4
Happy 5th Anniversary to Us, by Herkie.

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Chichen Itza to be Promoted during ‘International Year of Astronomy’

April 25th, 2008 by ejalbright

The year 2009 has been declared the International Year of Astronomy, and Mexico plans to join the observance by hosting a series of activities, including many at or involving Chichen Itza, which has become famous for its archaeoastronomical features.

According to Dr. Stanislaw Iwaniszewski of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the most famous archaeoastronomical feature at Chichen Itza is the alignment of El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcan), which on the equinox produces a shadow-and-light effect that resembles a serpent crawling down its side. Other monuments in the archaeological zone also have archaeoastronomical importance, such as El Caracol, the so-called observatory, and the Temple of the Jaguar in the Great Ball Court. In Las Monjas (The Nunnery) there are pictorial representations of the Maya zodiac, and the Temple of Venus contains icons of the 8-year-old solar equivalent to five cycles of Venus.

Dr. Iwaniszewski is responsible for helping shape the “senderos arqueoastronómicos” (archaeoastronomical trails) that will promote Maya astronomy. “Mexico has 27 sites on the World Heritage list of the United Nations for Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),” he told the Mexican newspaper El Porvenir. “Virtually every one of them has astronomical elements.”

The scientist is helping to organize a program about Mesoamerican astronomy along with INAH’s Directorate of World Heritage and its National Coordination of Archaeology.

The reason behind 2009 being named the International Year of Astronomy is because it is the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s construction of the first modern telescope.

In Mexico, one of the purposes of the observance is to set the record straight about the upcoming end of the Maya calendar in 2012. Dr. Iwaniszewski wants to counter the position of those who believe the date represents the end of the world or some mystical change.

For more about the proposed observance of the International Year of Astronomy and Dr. Iwaniszewski’s view of the end of the Maya calendar, read the El Porvenir story HERE (in Spanish).

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Film Planned to Promote Chichen Itza to Deutch

April 22nd, 2008 by ejalbright

A documentary of the tourism options in eastern Mexico is currently being shot, and will spread to the German-speaking world the benefits of visiting the region.

The film is being put together by Vision 21, which promotes tourist destinations to travelers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Jurgen Bluhm, director of the company, said the film includes includes footage from the so-called Mundo Maya region: Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

Filming began April 6. In Yucatan, the theme will be the henequen industry, but the sites of the region, including Chichen Itza, will be featured. Also photographed will be the flamingoes of Celestún, the city of Mérida, the colonial site of Temozón Sur, and the Maya ruins of Uxmal and Dzibilchaltún.

The film will premiere in October 2009 on giant screens and will tour 80 cities in Europe.

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Visiting Chichen Itza in 1954

April 21st, 2008 by ejalbright

The Internet Archive, that wonderful, oddball collection of books, audio files and video files, has a lengthy home movie from 1954 (in color, no less) of a couple visiting Chichen Itza.

Arthur and Kate Tode traveled all over the world and made films of their excursions. Apparently they donated their films to the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, which today holds the copyright for this film.

I can’t seem to figure out how to embed the movie in this post, so you’ll have to go see it yourself HERE.

For another look at tourism in 1954, here’s an article I wrote several years ago about some tourism brochures and photos I purchased on eBay: Visiting Yucatan 50 Years Ago.


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Museum Honoring Chichen Itza & Ancient Mexico Opens at Mexico City Airport

April 14th, 2008 by ejalbright

Mexico City airport’s Terminal 2, photo by Sean Robinson

A mini-museum honoring Mexico’s Pre-Columbian history opened at the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. The exhibit has photographs and artifacts from 10 sites, including Chichen Itza.

The exhibit is managed by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), which oversees Mexico’s archaeological ruins, according to Alfonso de Maria y Campos, director of the institute.

The mini-museum takes up some 650 square meters of Terminal 2. In addition to photographs of the sites, the exhibit includes some 20 artifacts, of which five are replicas, from sites around Mexico, including Chichen Itza and Uxmal in the Yucatan Peninsula.

“That leads us to the issue of security, which requires a certain museum design that ensures the safeguarding of the pieces, which will be in the charge of airport personnel,” said Patricia Real Fierro, director of the National Coordinating Committee for Museums and Exhibitions, which consulted with INAH to design the museum.

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Highway to Chichen Itza Gets New Owner

April 10th, 2008 by ejalbright

Mexico’s largest construction company, ICA, last month purchased the concession for the toll highway between Merida and Cancun. The road is the fastest way to Chichen Itza from either of those two cities.

The Cuota as it is called bisects the Yucatan Peninsula east to west. It begins a few miles southwest of Cancun and terminates about 40 kilometers southeast of Merida. There are only two exists on the road, at Valladolid and at Piste/Chichen Itza.

ICA paid 870 million pesos ($81 million US) for Mayab Consortium, which owns the toll concession on the highway through 2030. ICA assumes the Mayab Consortium’s 2.133 billion pesos debt, which comes due in 2019 and 2020.

No word on whether fees to use the road will increase. Before the sale, the leg between Cancun and Vallodolid (payable in Xcan about halfway between the two) was 202 pesos (less than $20 US). From Valladolid to Piste/Chichen Itza the fee was 50 pesos. And from Piste/Chichen Itza to Merida the feel was 67 pesos.

Between Valladolid and Merida the toll therefore is 117 pesos (around $10 US) including a stop at Piste/Chichen Itza. Drivers passing straight through and not stopping to see the ruins may pay less. I’ve never done it.

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Peregrina, the Movie, Web site goes up

April 9th, 2008 by ejalbright

It’s been a while since there has been news about Peregrina: A Revolutionary Love Story, a proposed film about the 1923 romance between New York Times writer Alma Reed and Felipe Carrillo Puerto, the radical governor of Yucatan.

Carrillo Puerto and Reed were instrumental in introducing the world to Chichen Itza; the governor by building a road to the site, and Reed by publicizing in the Times the Carnegie restoration of the monuments and the dredging of the Cenote Sagrado by Edward H. Thompson.

Producers William and Devi Rosado of Pennsylvania announced the film in 2006 and planned to begin shooting in fall of 2007. They hired a writer, Ken Vose, and attracted an up-and-coming Mexican director Carlos Bolado. There was some talk of actress Gretchen Mol taking the role of Reed. But the planned start date came and went. It seemed as if the project had vaporized, not unusual in the world of independent filmmaking.

But the Rosados apparently are still trying to get the film off the ground. Recently they put up a Web site promoting the project. Not all the pages are finished, but there’s enough to show they are still trying. You can visit the site HERE.

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Russell Crowe to Shoot Movie at Chichen Itza? You Decide!

April 8th, 2008 by ejalbright


Two respected Mexican newspapers have reported that Russell Crowe will shoot his next movie at Chichen Itza.

The Australian actor will join Italian actress Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Triology, Shoot ‘Em Up), according to the man who wrote the screenplay, Alberto Haggar Gonzales. The film, “2012, la Profecía de la Serpiente” (“2012: The Prophecy of the Serpent”) will begin shooting later this year for a 2009 release.

shoot 'em up
Monica Bellucci, with Clive Owen, in 2007’s “Shoot ‘Em Up”

According to El Financiero, Haggar Gonzales says the plot of the film revolves around the legacy of the Maya world in 2012 and will be set in Yucatan. The year marks the end of time for the human race, which will be forced to decide whether it should assume the challenge of embracing spirituality or perish.

El Financiero caught up with Haggar Gonzales at the government offices of the state of Yucatan in Merida. And just who is the scriptwriter? He is an archaeoastronomer who speaks to New Age groups interested in the Maya calendar, which runs out on Dec. 21, 2012. While he has never had a screenplay produced, he does have some experience in front of the camera. Below is a snippet from a presentation he gave last year to “Earth Spirit Medicine,” based in New Hampshire:

If you stuck through to the end of the video, you would have seen a crystal skull. Coincidentally, this will be the subject of the new Indiana Jones movie that comes out this summer.

If Haggar Gonzales’s claim is true, this would be the third film dealing with 2012 in some form of production. Roland Emmerich, the director of “Independence Day,” recently sold to Sony pictures a project he has been developing for a big-budget movie about 2012. Another film company based in Russell Crowe’s home country of Australia is working on a 2012 movie called “The Dark Rift.”

The entire news team at American Egypt has been working around the clock to confirm this story. As yet, neither Russell Crowe or Monica Bellucci has returned our repeated e-mails.

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