Archive for February, 2010

INAH Staff Protest, Again, Using Chichen Itza for Concerts

February 28th, 2010 by ejalbright

Elton John is slated to perform at Chichen Itza, but not if a group of employees at INAH have their way.

Music lovers from around the world are willing to pay thousands of pesos to hear see their favorite artists perform at Chichen Itza and at other preColumbian sites in Mexico.

But to the minds of those charged with protecting these monuments — the staff at the federal Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History or INAH) — these concerts are illegal. The problem is that their cries appear to be falling on deaf ears, or when they are heard, are in the end ignored or subverted by the chain of command.

In 2003, INAH was able to prevent promoters within the state and federal government from allowing Placido Domingo perform at the restored Maya city of Tulum in Quintano Roo, Mexico, just south of Cancun. Five years later the Spanish tenor was tapped to perform at Chichen Itza, and INAH’s Council of Archaeology ruled against the concert. However, the Yucatecan government agency Cultur which was sponsoring the concert reached a compromise with federal authorities by agreeing to take steps to prevent the stage and other facilities from damaging the monuments.

When Sarah Brightman performed at Chichen Itza last fall, there was a half-hearted attempt by some at INAH to stop it. Now Elton John is scheduled to perform April 3, and several INAH staff members are trying a new tact. They have called for a public debate to be held at Chichen Itza on March 11 and 12 to discuss the legality and moral right of holding profit-generating concerts in sites of patrimony.

Early last week three leaders within INAH denounced what they called “excesses of patronage culture” that are the result of overlapping jurisdictions of the ancient sites by two agencies in the federal government and one in state government.

INAH stewards explained that the zones and archaeological monuments in their use are governed by the National Property Act, the Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological Sites, art or history, which state that the archaeological sites are national assets common use and public domain, attached to the national education system, outside the channels of trade, and that nobody can profit from them or use them for purposes unrelated to its purpose and nature.

Cuauhtemoc Velasco Avila, INAH’s general secretary of researchers and teachers; David Acevedo Lopez, representing the administrative workers, technicians and general laborers, and Yolanda Cano Romero, secretary general of INAH’s primary union, D- II-IA2, announced their opposition to the commercial exploitation at Chichen Itza by Cultur, the Yucatan state agency that has authority of patrimonial sites.

In a press briefing held last week, the three stewards explained that INAH has authority over the zones and archaeological monuments as a result of the National Property Act and that archaeological sites are national assets that belong to the public, and no one can profit from them or use them as such.

As of yesterday, no one from Cultur or other agency has agreed to attend the March 11-12 debate.

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Chocolate Company Creates Chichen Itza-like Truffles

February 5th, 2010 by ejalbright

A Seattle confectioner is making pyramid chocolates

Confectioner Seattle Chocolates has launched a new line of sweets under its J. Truffles brand that mimic the clean, straight lines of the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, El Castillo (aka The Temple of Kukulcan). The main inspirations for the chocolate truffles are not so much like a Mexican pyramid, however, but instead more Art Deco, a design style popular in the 1920s that was inspired, in part, by ancient Mesoamerica. According to J. Truffles Web site, “These pyramid shaped truffles find their roots in ageless architecture from the early days of chocolate history when the Mayans used cacao as currency.”

According to J. Truffles’ Niel Campbell, El Castillo played no little part in the creation process of the new product line. During a visit to Chichen Itza several years ago, “I was particularly struck by the grandeur for which a picture cannot do justice,” Campbell writes in his blog. “It is unclear whether the Gods constructed it for man or man constructed it for the Gods, but whichever way that one went, they certainly outdid themselves … These were the dreams for an era and what are left behind have become our enjoyment and our security and our reverence to the forbearers, whoe’er they were.”

The chocolates are available for purchase online HERE

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Budget Crunch Halts Important Chichen Itza Archaeological Work

February 4th, 2010 by ejalbright

Back side of a small ball court being reconstructed at Chichen Itza
The Casa Colorada ball court, whose reconstruction has been halted by INAH due to lack of budget.

INAH, the federal agency that oversees Chichen Itza, has halted work on the building known as Casa Colorada (The Red House, also called Chichanchob) and in the and laid off all the workers, many of whom are Maya from local villages.

INAH shut down the Casa Colorada project, as well as various consolidation projects underway in the area known as Chichen Viejo, citing lack of budget. The projects employed some 100 people.

The projects will resume, an INAH spokesman said, provided budget is approved.

INAH staff and local workmen had been restoring a small ball court that adjoined the Casa Colorada (see the American Egypt site report of the work, “The Casa Colorada Ball Court: INAH Turns Mounds into Monuments“). They were also working on a neighboring building, the Casa de Venado (“House of the Deer”).

In addition to the local Maya workers, the project was under the supervision of archaeologists Jose Osorio Leon, Francisco Pérez Ruiz, Luis Leyva and Marisa Carrillo.

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