Resplendent quetzals in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica


This video says about itself:

Wildlife, Hummingbirds and Resplendent Quetzal in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

27 March 2014. As I said in my earlier blog post, that morning we went to a resplendent quetzal nest in San Gerardo de Dota.

Resplendent quetzals make their nest in woodpeckers’ holes in trees, which they enlarge.

Resplendent quetzal tail, 27 March 2014

Male and female quetzals take turns at sitting on the eggs. The male’s tail is usually too long for the nest. So it sticks out, like at this nest.

This morning, the female left the nest at 5:15. The usual time for shifts on the nest is three hours.

Resplendent quetzal male's head and tail, 27 March 2014

At 9:07, so after almost four hours, the male gets his head out of the nest. What takes her so long in taking over?

Resplendent quetzal male on branch, 27 March 2014

Four minutes later, the male leaves the nest and sits down on a branch.

Resplendent quetzal male with tail, 27 March 2014

It is not easy to photograph a male resplendent quetzal showing all of the bird, including the long beautiful tail feathers. And resplendent quetzals here in Costa Rica don’t even have tails as long as their Mexican colleagues; as TED Geography writes:

Today, the Quetzal’s range actually extends from southern Mexico through Western Panama in mountain regions with an elevation of 4,000 to 10,000 feet. At some point in time the [sub]species of Pharomachrus mocinno were separated into a Northern and Southern [sub]species by the stretch of lowlands that covers parts of southern Guatemala, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. The southern species is Pharomachrus mocinno costaricensis and differs from the northern species by its shorter, narrower tail plumes on the male. Costa Rica’s Quetzals are more fortunate, since Costa Rica marshalled funds by abolishing its army in 1948 to establish an extensive system of national parks and wildlife reserves to protect the habitat of the Quetzal.

Resplendent quetzal male back to nest, 27 March 2014

At 9:26, the male gets back into the nest, as the female has not arrived yet and the eggs should not get cold.

Resplendent quetzal male back into nest, 27 March 2014

Resplendent quetzal male tail at mossy tree nest, 27 March 2014

Later that day, further in the valley, at 16:45, we see another quetzal nest. That tree is more mossy, but the male’s tail sticking out is just as beautiful.

At 17:15, we are back at the first nest. The male’s tail is still sticking out. Has the female left him in the lurch all day?

We don’t know that, because we were not present there from the morning till late in the afternoon. However, we did see the female arrive at 17:25. The male got out.

Resplendent quetzal female back to nest, 27 March 2014

17:42: after putting her head into the nest opening a few times tentatively, the female disappears into the hole for her turn.

She should not have waited a long time, as squirrels sometimes use the intervals between the bird couple’s turns to steal eggs.

Quetzals cannot live in captivity; making them a symbol of freedom in Central America.

According to TED Geography in the USA, about the resplendent quetzal:

This famous bird has a long history, as it was the spiritual protector of the Mayan chiefs. It is said that the Quetzal would accompany them everywhere, aiding them in battle, and dying when they died. Legend has it that when Spanish Conquistado[r] Pedro de Alvarado and his Spaniards attacked the Mayans in 1524, the Quetzal appeared crying out and pecking at Alvarado.

At the exact moment when Alvarado pierced Tecum Uman [the chief], the sacred Quetzal fell silent and plummeted to earth, covering the body of the regal [Mayan] with its long and soft green plumes. After keeping a deathwatch through the night, the bird that rose from the cacique’s [chieftain’s] lifeless body was transformed. It was no longer the pure green of jade. Its breast had soaked up the blood of the fallen warrior, and so, too, became crimson, the shade of Mayan blood, as it has remained to this day (Maslow, p.19).

The Mayans proved just as unlucky as their chief; 30,000 of them succumbed to the superior firepower of the Spaniards.

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Big Maya archaeological discovery in Guatemala


This 2011 video is about earlier archaeological discoveries in Holmul, Guatemala.

From National Geographic:

Giant Maya Frieze Found in Guatemala

Archaeologist Anya Shetler cleans an inscription below an ancient stucco frieze recently unearthed in the buried Maya city of Holmul in the Peten region of Guatemala. Sunlight from a tunnel entrance highlights the carved legs of a ruler sitting atop the head of a Maya mountain spirit.

The enormous frieze—which measures 26 feet by nearly 7 feet (8 meters by 2 meters)—depicts human figures in a mythological setting, suggesting these may be deified rulers. It was discovered in July in the buried foundations of a rectangular pyramid in Holmul.

Maya archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli and his team were excavating a tunnel left open by looters when they happened upon the frieze. “The looters had come close to it, but they hadn’t seen it,” Estrada-Belli said.

According to Estrada-Belli, the frieze is one of the best preserved examples of its kind. “It’s 95 percent preserved. There’s only one corner that’s not well preserved because it’s too close to the surface, but the rest of it isn’t missing any parts,” said Estrada-Belli, who is affiliated with Tulane University, Boston University, and the American Museum of Natural History and who is also a National Geographic Explorer. …

Caught Between Two Great Powers

The section of the temple at Holmul where the frieze was found dates back to about 590 A.D., which corresponds to the Maya classical era, a period defined by the power struggles between two major Maya dynasties: Tikal and Kaanul.

The two kingdoms competed with one another for resources and for control of other, smaller Maya city-states. Until now, however, it had been unclear which dynasty Holmul owed its allegiance to, but an inscription on the newly discovered frieze reveals that the temple was commissioned by Ajwosaj, ruler of a neighboring city-state called Naranjo, which archaeologists know from other discoveries was a vassal city of the Kaanul kingdom.

“We now know that Holmul was under the influence of the Kaanul dynasty,” Canuto said.

In 2012, Canuto’s team found and deciphered a series of hieroglyphically inscribed panels at another Maya city of a similar size to Holmul, called La Corona, which was also under the patronage of the Kaanul kingdom.

Ancient Maya codex not fake, new analysis claims. If authentic, Grolier text could claim spot as oldest book in Americas. By Bruce Bower, 7:00am, September 26, 2016: here.

Corporate destruction of Mayan temple in Belize


This video is called Mexico – Chichen Itza (Mayan Pyramids).

From Associated Press:

May 13, 2013, 7:30 PM

Bulldozers destroy Mayan pyramid in Belize

BELIZE CITY – A construction company has essentially destroyed one of Belize’s largest Mayan pyramids with backhoes and bulldozers to extract crushed rock for a road-building project, authorities announced on Monday.

The head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, Jaime Awe, said the destruction at the Nohmul complex in northern Belize was detected late last week. The ceremonial center dates back at least 2,300 years and is the most important site in northern Belize, near the border with Mexico.

“It’s a feeling of incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity … they were using this for road fill,” Awe said. “It’s like being punched in the stomach, it’s just so horrendous.”

Nohmul sat in the middle of a privately owned sugar cane field, and lacked the even stone sides frequently seen in reconstructed or better-preserved pyramids. But Awe said the builders could not possibly have mistaken the pyramid mound, which is about 100 feet tall, for a natural hill because the ruins were well-known and the landscape there is naturally flat.

“These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It’s just bloody laziness”, Awe said.

Photos from the scene showed backhoes clawing away at the pyramid’s sloping sides, leaving an isolated core of limestone cobbles at the center, with what appears to be a narrow Mayan chamber dangling above one clawed-out section.

“Just to realize that the ancient Maya acquired all this building material to erect these buildings, using nothing more than stone tools and quarried the stone, and carried this material on their heads, using tump lines,” said Awe. “To think that today we have modern equipment, that you can go and excavate in a quarry anywhere, but that this company would completely disregard that and completely destroyed this building. Why can’t these people just go and quarry somewhere that has no cultural significance? It’s mind-boggling.”

Belizean police said they are conducting an investigation and criminal charges are possible. The Nohmul complex sits on private land, but Belizean law says that any pre-Hispanic ruins are under government protection.

The Belize community-action group Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action called the destruction of the archaeological site “an obscene example of disrespect for the environment and history.”

It is not the first time it’s happened in Belize, a country of about 350,000 people that is largely covered in jungle and dotted with hundreds of Mayan ruin sites, though few as large as Nohmul.

Norman Hammond, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Boston University who worked in Belizean research projects in the 1980s, wrote in an email that “bulldozing Maya mounds for road fill is an endemic problem in Belize (the whole of the San Estevan center has gone, both of the major pyramids at Louisville, other structures at Nohmul, many smaller sites), but this sounds like the biggest yet.”

Arlen Chase, chairman of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida, said, “Archaeologists are disturbed when such things occur, but there is only a very limited infrastructure in Belize that can be applied to cultural heritage management.”

“Unfortunately, they (destruction of sites) are all too common, but not usually in the center of a large Maya site,” Chase wrote.

He said there had probably still been much to learn from the site. “A great deal of archaeology was undertaken at Nohmul in the ’70s and ’80s, but this only sampled a small part of this large center.”

Belize isn’t the only place where the handiwork of the far-flung and enormously prolific Maya builders is being destroyed. The ancient Mayas spread across southeastern Mexico and through Guatemala, Honduras and Belize.

“I don’t think I am exaggerating if I say that every day a Maya mound is being destroyed for construction in one of the countries where the Maya lived,” wrote Francisco Estrada-Belli, a professor at Tulane University’s Anthropology Department.

“Unfortunately, this destruction of our heritage is irreversible but many don’t take it seriously,” he added. “The only way to stop it is by showing that it is a major crime and people can and will go to jail for it.”

Robert Rosenswig, an archaeologist at the State University of New York at Albany, described the difficult and heartbreaking work of trying to salvage information at the nearby site of San Estevan following similar destruction around 2005.

“Bulldozing damage at San Estevan is extensive and the site is littered with Classic period potsherds,” he wrote in an academic paper describing the scene. “We spent a number of days at the beginning of the 2005 season trying to figure out the extent of the damage …. after scratching our heads for many days, a bulldozer showed up and we realized that what appear to be mounds, when overgrown with chest-high vegetation, are actually recently bulldozed garbage piles.”

However small the compensation, bulldozing pyramids is one very brutal way of revealing the inner cores of the structures, which were often built up in periodic stages of construction.

“The one advantage of this massive destruction, to the core site, is that the remains of early domestic activity are now visible on the surface,” Rosenswig wrote.

The ancient Mayan city of Chactun was once a metropolis with around 35,000 inhabitants. It had sculptures, ball courts, temples, and fifteen pyramids (one of which was an impressive 75 feet tall.) But it was abandoned completely well over 1,000 years ago and lost to scholars until this year. Read more: here.

Guatemalan murderous ex-dictator on trial


This video is called Inside Story Americas: Guatemala: Struggling for justice.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Witness gives account of 1982 village massacre

Thursday 21 March 2013

The first witness in the trial of Guatemala’s former US-backed dictator General Efrain Rios Montt testified on Tuesday that soldiers razed his village in 1982.

Nicolas Brito, the first of at least 150 witnesses to give testimony in the trial of Gen Rios Montt, said that troops killed dozens in the attack.

Mr Brito, an indigenous Ixil who survived the army’s attack on the village of Canaque, said he escaped and watched as soldiers attacked.

“A lot of women died because they were preparing the dough for tortillas and couldn’t run,” he added.

“The soldiers tore their victims’ hearts out and put them on a little table.”

In a 1982 coup Gen Rios Montt took power and held it for just over a year.

Prosecutors say during that time he was aware of, and thus responsible for, the slaughter of at least 1,771 Ixil Mayas.

Maya and fake apocalypse


This video says about itself:

2012, NASA and the Mayan Calendar

Answers to some questions about 2012 from NASA’s Ask an Astrobiologist, Dr. David Morrison, and information about ancient Mayan calendars and their base 20 numerical system.

From Scientific American:

December 23, 2012

Maya Civilization Provides A Real Apocalyptic Lesson

Research shows that what laid low Mayan society was climate change, which brought prolonged drought. David Biello reports.

You survived the Mayan apocalypse, or at least transitioned to the next baktun, number 14 according to the Mayan calendar. But what real lessons does this ancient culture hold?

First and foremost, the Maya are a case study in adaptation. Their complex civilization of powerful city-states collapsed, and the jungle retook those urban centers. But the Mayan people endured, today being the principle ethnic population of parts of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.

European invaders did not end the era of the Mayan city-state. Although it was descendants of those Europeans who came up with this apocalypse mumbo-jumbo.

Research shows that what laid low Mayan society was something more insidious: climate change. A subtle shift in weather patterns brought less rain and the Mayan civilization was simply unable to cope with a prolonged dry period punctuated by several severe droughts.

Given that our highly complex civilization is also facing climate change, it might make sense to look back to the Maya for a glimpse of our future. Today much of the former Mayan city-states are nature preserves, dotted by ruins. Will we do better when faced with crippling and long-lasting drought in this, the 14th baktun?

‘Oldest Mayan king’s tomb’ discovery in Guatemala


This video says about itself:

CORRECTION: Alive during 500s to 600s. Incorrectly said “1600s” in 4th sentence. 10/11/12

Archeologists in Guatemala discovered a carved alabaster vessel with a protruding face that revealed the burial chamber to belong to Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Mayan queen.

There are only five Mayan tombs that are identifiable, and this is already considered one of them, said WUSTL archaeologist David Freidel, PhD.

The smoking gun was the carved alabaster vessel found in the burial chamber.

Lady K’abel was a Mayan Holy Snake Lord alive in the 600s and is considered one of the great queens of Classic Mayan civilization.

With a head that pokes out like a turtle’s, the carved white alabaster jar depicts an old woman.

Four glyphs are carved into the jar that effectively mark the grave as K’abel’s.

Other notable findings include an entrance of the tomb that’s marked by two large petroglyphs, carved stone slabs.

From the BBC:

26 October 2012

‘Oldest Mayan tomb’ found in Guatemala’s Retalhuleu

One of the oldest Mayan tombs ever found has been uncovered in western Guatemala, say archaeologists.

Located at a temple site in Retalhuleu province, the grave is thought to be that of an ancient ruler or religious leader who lived some 2,000 years ago.

Carbon-dating indicated the tomb had been built between 700 and 400 BC, said government archaeologist Miguel Orrego.

A rich array of jade jewels, including a necklace depicting a vulture-headed human figure, were found.

The scientists found no bones at the tomb in the Tak’alik Ab’aj site – some 180km (110 miles) south of Guatemala City – probably because they had disintegrated.

But the vulture-headed figure appears to identify the tomb’s occupant as an ajaw – or ruler – because the symbol represented power and economic status and was given to respected elder men.

Big chief

The scientists named the grave’s occupant K’utz Chman, which in the Mayan language, Mam, means Grandfather Vulture.

“He was a big chief”, said Mr Orrego. “He bridged the gap between the Olmec and Mayan cultures in central America.”

The leader may have been the first to introduce elements which later became characteristic of the Mayan culture, such as the building of pyramids and the carving of sculptures depicting the royal families, Reuters news agency cited historians as saying.

The Olmec empire began to fade at around 400 BC, while the Maya civilisation was starting to grow and develop, said Christa Schieber, another archaeologist working at the site.

The Mayas went on to rule much of Central America from 250 to 800 AD; their empire extended from modern-day Honduras to central Mexico.

Maya queen’s tomb discovery


This video is called Tomb of Maya queen K’abel discovered in Guatemala.

From Science, Space & Robots:

Tomb of Lady K’abel, Maya Queen and Holy Snake Lord, Discovered in Guatemala

The tomb of Lady K’abel, a late 7th century Maya Holy Snake Lord and queen has been discovered in Guatemala. Archaeologists used the carved alabaster vessel … to help conclude the tomb they found belonged to K’abel. The vessel was found inside the burial chamber. Archaeologists say K’abel is considered one of the great queens of Classic Maya civilization.

The scientists say in a release that a “depiction of the woman, mature with a lined face and a strand of hair in front of her ear, and four glyphs carved into the jar” are evidence the tomb is K’abel’s. Other vessels in the tomb and carvings on the outside of the tomb also lead researchers to believe the tomb belonged to the ancient queen.

David Freidel, Washington University in St. Louis archaeologist and co-director of the expedition, says, “The Classic Maya civilization is the only ‘classical’ archaeological field in the New World – in the sense that like archaeology in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia or China, there is both an archaeological material record and an historical record based on texts and images.”

Freidel explains the findings in this video and why they are confident the tomb belongs to K’abel. He says, “It’s as close to a smoking gun in archaeology as you can get.” Freidel says K’abel was both a queen and a supreme warlord.

See also here. And here. And here. And here.

Chocolate history discovery


This video is called The History Of Chocolate Part 1 of 4.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Chocolate found on 2,500-yr-old plate

MEXICO: We’ve been eating chocolate for much longer than previously thought, archaeologists have found.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said traces of chocolate had been found on a 2,500 year-old plate.

Evidence has been found of Mayans drinking chocolate before that date but this is the first proof it was eaten.

See also here.

What Makes Chocolate So Irresistible? A New Study Hints at an Answer: here.

Guatemalan Mayan temple discovery


This video is called A mask-nificent discovery (Mayan masks from El Zotz, Guatemala).

From COSMOS magazine:

Ancient Mayan ‘night sun’ temple found in Guatemala

Friday, 20 July 2012

Agençe France-Presse

GUATEMALA CITY: Archaeologists have uncovered a 1,600-year-old Mayan temple dedicated to the ‘night sun’ atop a pyramid tomb in the northern Guatemalan forest near the border with Mexico.

“The Sun was a key element of Maya rulership,” said lead archeologist Stephen Houston in announcing the discovery by the joint Guatemalan and American team that has been excavating the El Zotz site since 2006.

“It’s something that rises every day and penetrates into all nooks and crannies, just as royal power presumably would,” said Houston, a professor at Brown University, Rhode Island.

Carbon dating places construction at 350-400AD

“This building is one that celebrates this close linkage between the king and this most powerful and dominant of celestial presences.”

Archaeologists say the temple was likely built to honour the leader buried under the Diablo Pyramid tomb, the governor and founder of the first El Zotz dynasty called Pa’Chan, or ‘fortified sky’.

Mayan civilisation, which spread through southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize, was at its height between 250 and 900 AD.

Carbon dating places construction of the temple at the early part of that era, somewhere between 350 and 400 AD, the archeologists said.

More than half of the temple still to be excavated

It is ornately decorated with massive stucco masks, 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall, each depicting the phases of the Sun as it moves east to west, and a painted stucco frieze that the team described as “incredible”.

More than half the temple is still to be excavated, co-project leader Thomas Garrison of the University of Southern California told a press conference at Guatemala City’s National Palace of Culture.

“The temple probably had 14 masks at the height of the frieze, but only eight of them have been documented” so far, which is why excavations must continue, added University of Austin archeologist Edwin Roman.

Excavations by the Guatemalan and American team began at the El Zotz dig in 2006, but the temple wasn’t uncovered until three years ago.

See also here.

What Was Behind Mysterious Collapse of the Mayan Empire? Here.

Mayas did not believe in 2012 doomsday


This video is called Mayan Calendar 2012 Doomsday Scenarios Debunked By NASA Scientist.

From National Geographic:

Unprecedented Maya Mural Found, Contradicts 2012 “Doomsday” Myth

Under the Guatemalan jungle, 1,200-year-old paintings like no others.

Erik Vance in Xultún, Guatemala

for National Geographic News

Published May 10, 2012

In the last known largely unexcavated Maya megacity, archaeologists have uncovered the only known mural adorning an ancient Maya house, a new study says—and it’s not just any mural.

In addition to a still vibrant scene of a king and his retinue, the walls are rife with calculations that helped ancient scribes track vast amounts of time. Contrary to the idea the Maya predicted the end of the world in 2012, the markings suggests dates thousands of years beyond that.

Perhaps most important, the otherwise humble chamber offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of Maya society. (Video: Mysterious Maya Calendar & Mural Uncovered.)

“The paintings we have here—we’ve never found them anyplace else,” excavation leader William Saturno told National Geographic News.

And in today’s Xultún—to the untrained eye, just 12 square miles (31 square kilometers) of jungle floor—it’s a wonder Saturno’s team found the artwork at all.

See also here. And here. And here.