In the late 1890s, as America was developing into an industrial heavyweight, its scientists and explorers were rediscovering Earth’s ancient past and charting forgotten civilizations around our planet. One of these explorers was Augustus Le Plongeon, a French American who, after reading the exploits of Stephens and Catherwood in Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, set out to explore Mexico and the Maya cities on the Yucatan Peninsula.
The accomplished photographer and land surveyor, Augustus arrived in Mérida, Mexico (capital of Yucatan) in 1875, and together with his wife Alice made plans to visit a number of major Maya ruins. Before they could go anywhere, an armed escort had to be arranged for protection against bandits, Maya rebels, and the Yucatecan Militia who were fighting a Caste War which had destabilized the area for a number of years. Although dangerous, they traveled to Uxmal and later Chichen Itza, and produced some of the earliest photographs of the buildings in these areas.
At Chichen Itza, Augustus had workers clear large portions of the central acropolis to better photograph the standing buildings. These images would later inspire a number of noted scientists including Edward Thompson, an American archaeologist, who, with the support of the Carnegie Institution conducted the first extensive excavations and consolidations of the ancient city.
Symbols and Hieroglyphs of Early Civilizations
Curious about the Maya language, Augustus had local teachers instruct him in the Yucatan Maya language to aid his research in understanding the decorative symbols and hieroglyphs that covered a number of buildings and murals. A high-level Freemason who had traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and Egypt, Le Plongeon believed the Dynastic Egyptians were influenced by early Maya explorers and people from Atlantis and wrote extensively about his theories.
In the 1890s and well into the early 1900s, before the introduction of carbon-14 dating techniques scientists were establishing the backgrounds of early civilizations through comparative analysis and believed the Maya’s Formative period was the same as the Christian era, roughly 1500 BC. Most of the prominent archaeologists at the time immediately wrote off Le Plongeon and discounted his work as sheer foolery. But Le Plongeon may have been on to something that we can only appreciate today.
Ancient Engineering: Star Constellations and Energy Alignments
The Maya revered their history and sanctified earlier generations. Noted pyramid complexes and buildings were constructed on the foundations and tops of existing architecture for the purpose of maintaining correct star constellation and energetic alignments. Today we have only a rudimentary understanding of why these practices were maintained, which centered on seasonal planting, harvesting, etc. But, recent research has uncovered a startling discovery!
The Maya applied a science, engineered into their pyramids, which collected and amplified natural earth-emitting, geomagnetic fields. John Burke, in his book, Seed of Knowledge, Stone of Plenty , measured these telluric fields (earth currents) and discovered that pyramid complexes were purposely designed and built over these vortexes. Obviously, the original Maya were technologically and scientifically advanced and over thousands of years developed a powerful and culturally rich civilization that influenced much of the ancient world.
Le Plongeon believed these early Maya formed the foundation for the people we have come to appreciate today and according to his interpretations, settled in present-day Yucatan Mexico over 11,500 years ago. To protect relics from the past, the priests buried artifacts and important documents of those periods, including a large statue.
A Lost Figure From the Past
Through his decipherment of a door lintel in an old ruin at Chichen Itza, Le Plongeon learned that under ‘The Platform of the Eagles and the Jaguars’, a small pyramid-shaped building close to the main acropolis, he would find an important figure from the past.
With nothing more than tree branches and a few laborers, he dug down over 10 feet (three meters) and found a large statue of a reclining man. Carved from granite, and weighing close to 800 pounds (363 kg), the figure wears an unusual cap, with strange side panels covered with hieroglyphs that extend down over the ears. His head is turned 90 degrees from the front, and he supports himself on his elbows. With arms resting on the midsection, his hands hold a small round bowl. A number of archaeologists have assigned the figure to the Toltec culture found in Central Mexico as a similar reclining sculpture was discovered in Tula, their capital city. A large plate or insignia covers the upper half of the statue’s chest and is identical to those found on the massive standing sculptures at Tula on top of pyramid B.
Le Plongeon named the statue ‘Chacmool’, or powerful warrior to symbolize a slain soldier carrying offerings to the gods. A crude work of art, the sculptor hastily carved the piece with a simple, expressionless face, and with a body not typical of the highly refined sculptures we find from the early Maya. Why Le Pleongeon named the figure Chacmool is curious. The figure wears nothing that would be considered a warrior’s clothing. This is a king, nobleman, or priest from the past. Could this figure be the fabled Kukulkan, bringer of knowledge, a survivor of the great deluge, returned to kick-start civilization?
The Cult of Kukulkan
Archaeologists believe the cult of Kukulkan facilitated communication and peaceful trade among peoples of many different social and ethnic backgrounds, and was originally centered on the ancient city of Chichen Itza, but spread as far as the Guatemalan Highlands and into other portions of Central America. The Aztecs had a similar figure called Quetzalcoatl and named a pyramid after him at Teotihuacan.
Although the name Kukulkan is well known throughout Central America, we have few if any documents that tell us who he was and reveal his legacy. Some have speculated that the dish the figure holds on his midsection may have contained liquid mercury, and through its metallic reflection, was used to view the heavens or for purposes of divination.
Whatever the purpose of the reclining pose, this figure is important to the early Maya and perhaps other Meso-American cultures. Small reproductions (figurines) of the Chac-Mool have been unearthed throughout Yucatan and present-day Mexico which tell us that the figure was deified, and possibly used in religious ceremonies.
Examples of Chac-Mool sculptures have been found widely across Mesoamerica from Michoacan in Mexico down to El Salvador. The earliest examples date from the Terminal Classic period of Mesoamerican chronology (c. AD 800–900). Although Le Plongeon found the largest Chac-Mool, fourteen other Chac-Mools were discovered at Chichen Itza and twelve from Tula. In Chichen Itza, only five of the fourteen were securely confirmed in architectural contexts, those in the Castillo, the Chac-Mool Temple, the North Colonnade, the Temple of the Little Tables and the Temple of the Warriors. The rest were found interred in or near important structures. The smaller Tula Chac-Mool is almost identical to the Chichen Itza version except for the knife bound to his arm.
Blood for the Blood God
Centuries later, the Chac-Mool would be used by degenerate Meso American civilizations, including later generations of the Maya, to represent a blood god. In the Aztec version, the plate held on the midsection became a Cuauhxicalli (a stone bowl to receive human hearts), and was responsible for the religious cult deaths of tens of thousands of men, women, and children, marking it as one of the lowest periods in human history.
Kick-Starting a New World
As archaeologists continue to find older Maya settlements throughout Central America, one point has become clear. It was the Maya and not the Olmec who were the great teachers, and who influenced a number of early native people in much of present day Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. The Chac-Mool may have been one of many important figures following what appears to have been a major deluge (and earth change) which destroyed a great deal of the human population throughout Meso-America. Native myths describe a figure (or figures) who disseminated information on agriculture, astronomy, cultural development and the sciences to help kick-start a new world for the survivors. I believe as we continue to dig and decipher more of the Maya building complexes that are left to us, we’ll uncover new evidence for this claim and come to better understand these and other important individuals who influenced the past.
Top Image: Statue of the God Chac-Mool, located inside a chamber in the pyramid of Kukulcán in Chichén Itzá, Mexico
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