Visit Mexico’s Archeological Wonders

Thinking of taking a trip to Mexico to explore some of its ancient monuments but don’t know where to start? Consider visiting these top four sites:

Palenque 

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Photo: Antony Stanley – Temple Of The Inscriptions

Located in the foothills of the Mexican state of Chiapas lies the ancient Mayan site of Palenque (AD 431 to 799). It is considered to be one of the country’s most important tourist destinations. The site has an abundance of magnificent structures including the very impressive 75-foot-high Temple of the Inscriptions that was constructed as a “tomb” for the famous Mayan ruler Pacal.

Teotihuacan

Mexico Pyramid of the Sun

Photo: stevecadman – Pyramid of the Sun

Located northeast of present day Mexico City stands Teotihuacan. This ancient city is estimated to date back sometime between 200 BC and AD 750. When the Aztec’s stumbled upon this city it was already long abandoned. They referred to it as “the place where men became gods”.Today this ancient city is an important pilgrimage site for those interested in celebrating the vernal equinox (between March 19 and March 21).

Chichén Itzá

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Photo: Celso Flores – Kukulkan’s Pyramid

Chichen Itza is located in the Yucatan Peninsula and was founded by the Mayans in 514 AD. It has a treasure trove of monuments to explore and is one of the most visited Mayan archaeological sites in Mexico for travellers to visit. The main monuments to visit here include the Piramide de Kukulkan or El Castillo (Kukulkan’s Pyramid or The Castle), El Caracol (The Snail) and the Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of The Warriors).

Monte Albán

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Photo: Nsaum75 – Monte Alban West Side Platform

Located in the southern Mexican state of present day Oaxaca stands the famous ancient city of Monte Alban. This city is situated on a hill at nearly 6,562 feet. According to archaeologists, the city was founded in 500 BC by the Zapotecas. However, the true origins of the city is debatable. Some believe the original founders of the city were there thousands of years before the Zapotecas arrived. These orginal founders may have been the Olmecs, who are considered by many to be the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica. One of the most important and oldest buildings to see at the site is the Temple of the Danzantes (Temple of the Dancers). The temple was originally covered by three hundred stone slabs depicting images of sacrificial prisoners.

To learn more about visiting Mexico’s ancient sites visit: http://www.visitmexico.com/en/maya-world

Temple of the Great Jaguar – Tikal, Guatemala

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Photo Credit: An en Alain

Located in the Northern Guatemala region of El Peten lies Tikal. It is one of the largest cities of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in Mesoamerica. It contains thousands of structures extending over six square miles. The main monument at Tikal is the Temple of the Great Jaguar or Temple 1. It stands at a height of 154 feet and its base measures 111 feet. The pyramid has nine levels and is crowned by a high crest. It was built as a funerary temple for Tikal’s greatest ruler “Ah Cacaw”.

 

Ancient Site In Ireland: Giant’s Causeway

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer – Giant’s Causeway , Ireland

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Morrow – Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

Located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland is Giant’s Causeway. It is a spectacular display of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. The tallest are about 39 ft in height. Geologists believe it originated from volcanic eruptions 60 millions years ago, but local folklore says Irish Giant Finn McCool built the Causeway to cross the Irish Sea to challenge a rival giant in Scotland.

Library of Alexandria

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Photo Credit: Ambrose Dudley – The Burning of the Library at Alexandria

In 391 AD the Christian Church destroyed the famous Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It was one of the largest and most impressive libraries of the ancient world. It has been estimated that at one time the Library of Alexandria held over half a million documents from Assyria, Greece, Persia, Egypt and India.

The Talpiot Tomb – Jesus Controversy

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia “The Talpiot Tomb”

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Photo Credit: Paradiso – The James Ossuary

The Talpiot Tomb is once again the center of a fierce archaeological and theological debate. Back in 2007, a documentary movie called “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” (hosted and written by Simcha Jacobovici) caused a major controversy when he argued that this burial chamber may have been the actual tomb of the family of Jesus of Nazareth. His theory was based on the fact that archaeologists had discovered 10 ossuaries (burial boxes for bones) within the tomb and some included inscriptions which were interpreted as “Jesus son of Joseph” and “Mary” to name a few. This has led some to also suggest that Jesus was married, had a son and that there was no resurrection after he died.

As you can imagine, this theory has caused a storm of criticism by others. But, according to geologist Aryeh Shimron, there may now be solid facts to authenticate the argument put forward by Mr. Jacobovici and others. According to Mr. Shimron, there is a connection between the geochemical samples found in both the Talpiot Tomb and the James ossuary (a box with the inscription “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus”) which is currently in the hands of an Israeli collector.  If this is correct and the samples are verified, it will mean that the James ossuary could very well have been from the same time period of the Talpiot Tomb.  Mr. Jacobovici argues that there is a possibility that at some point in the remote past the James ossuary was also inside the tomb before it was removed and taken away. Could these test samples prove once and for all that the tomb was in fact for the family of Jesus? We will have to wait until Mr. Shimron publishes his results for others to review. Until then, the debate rages on.

Source: NBC News

Aztec Calendar

Aztec Calendar Mexico

Photo Credit: El Comandante (Wikimedia Commons)

The stone of the sun is one of the most famous works of art from the Aztecs and did you know that there are actually two Aztec calendars? The first calendar is called the” xiuhpohualli” and has 365 days.  It describes the days and rituals related to the seasons, and refers to the agricultural year. The other calendar is called the ” tonalpohualli” and has 260 days. It is known as the sacred calendar and its main purpose was to divide the days and rituals between the gods.

The stone was carved during the Axayacatl reign (1469-81) and is considered to be a commemorative plaque of the fifth sun. At the center of the stone shows Tonatiuh (The Sun God) and around him we can see the four previous suns. The calendar also appears to show 20 day signs around the Sun God.