I’m back! (after 55 days of unintended blogging silence) My apologies!
Sorry to leave the blog hanging once again. I guess the blogging urge has been a little lacking this year. With the tendency to post pics and blurbs on Facebook, putting the same stuff on a blog seems superfluous. I’ll keep trying to juggle them both.
Yesterday, we drove with co-workers Zac and Jen a couple hours over to the Cuernavaca area. We hadn’t been over there since around maybe 2007. We began our Mexico missionary journey over there in 2004 when I began language studies. Dayton was only 3 years-old at the time. He didn’t remember anything of our time there. We were hoping he might get a faint recollection from seeing some places we had been to, but he didn’t.
We started our day off by visiting a pyramid complex called Xochicalco. It is built on top of a mountain and has a fascinating history. The engineering is fabulous. These people had a planetarium built underground. There is a hold that allows light to enter directly from the sun only on one particular date exactly every 365 days. Their calendar accuracy was spectacular considering their era was before 1000 AD.
What has been unearthed and is visible today is only a portion of the full metropolitan area. The upper parts that can be seen are believed to be just the religious and elite ruling class areas. Below these would have been their middle and/or lower class sections. It isn’t known (or disclosed at least) just how far down the mountain those may extend. When the site was initially excavated, the upper portions showed signs of fire. Considering other pieces of evidence, it is postulated that the lower classes revolted against the religious and ruling elites at some point. It is thought that a prolonged drought led to the revolt.
The religion was based on the worship of the rain/water and fertility god, Tlaloc. It is surmised that the drought resulted in a rejection of this worship and the theocratic government that accompanied it. The lower classes would have been responsible for drawing and transporting lake water from the valley far below. They also would have done the bidding of the upper classes. The religious activities included human sacrifices. It is thought that the lower classes offered up many children to appease Tlaloc and to bring the rains which never came. You can imagine how this would lead to a revolt against the ruling class.
Interestingly, sport was a central part of their religion as well. The site has at least 3 “ball fields” that are rectangular in shape with steep walls. The object of the game was to get a small circular object (ball) through a stone ring that would have been installed in the walls. It is thought that the balls were possibly skulls. Originally, the players would have been participating as part of their religious worship. The winner would be promoted to deity status by having the privilege of being beheaded and his head used as the basis for the following religiously-inspired game.
Over centuries the degradation of the societal and religious norms turned the sport from a religious-themed activity to purely an economic activity based on gambling (evidence has been uncovered to support this). Thus, it can be seen that the society was initially a religious one that eventually turned toward the secular.
The city was an economic powerhouse with clear evidence of being a center of trading activities. There are antiquities that have been found on-site that indicate these people received goods (primarily types of stones and shells) that were native to places many hundreds of miles away (both coasts and even down into the central American isthmus)
It is interesting how religion, government, caste/class distinctions and disparities, sports, economic prosperity and trade, astronomy/astrology, architectural and engineering genius, and secularism are intertwined in their history of rising to power, drifting through prosperity, to falling into secularism, religious and societal disillusionment, class warfare and ultimately to the collapse and disappearance of the civilization. It does sound like a familiar cycle in the history (and present state) of human civilizations.
It was a beautiful day with plenty of sun and temps in the upper 70s. I took some pics from our walk-around and will post them below (a few of them I like in B&W as well as color so those will follow the color versions). Enjoy!