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By Vincent H. Malmström

The uncomplicated query "How did the Maya get a hold of a calendar that had simply 260 days?" led Vincent Malmström to find an unforeseen "hearth" of Mesoamerican tradition. during this boldly revisionist ebook, he units forth his hard, new view of the beginning and diffusion of Mesoamerican calendrical systems—the highbrow fulfillment that gave upward thrust to Mesoamerican civilization and culture.

Malmström posits that the 260-day calendar marked the period among passages of the solar at its zenith over Izapa, an old ceremonial heart within the Soconusco quarter of Mexico's Pacific coastal simple. He is going directly to convey how the calendar built via the Zoque humans of the zone within the fourteenth century B.C. steadily subtle via Mesoamerica into the so-called "Olmec metropolitan zone" of the Gulf coast and past to the Maya within the east and to the plateau of Mexico within the west.

These findings problem our past knowing of the starting place and diffusion of Mesoamerican civilization. certain to impress full of life debate in lots of quarters, this publication can be very important interpreting for all scholars of old Mesoamerica—anthropologists, archaeologists, archaeoastronomers, geographers, and the turning out to be public interested by all issues Maya.

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Extra info for Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon: The Calendar in Mesoamerican Civilization

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For example, whereas Purrón pottery was relatively austere and utilitarian, Barra was elaborately decorated and functionally specialized — the first typical of everyday housewares, the second of sophisticated luxury goods. Thus, if any conclusion can be drawn regarding the societies which produced these differing types of ceramics it must be that the Purrón, with its rather pedestrian plates, dishes, and cooking bowls, was far less affluent than the Barra, with its ornately slipped and highly burnished drinking goblets.

The magnetic properties of these sculptures were first discovered in 1979 by my student assistant, Paul Dunn of the Dartmouth class of 1981. acteristic which lends them a true air of mystery: Many of them are magnetic! This discovery, made by my field assistant Paul Dunn and myself in 1979, took everyone, including the archaeological community, by complete surprise. If the sculpture depicts a head, it is often magnetic in the right temple. If it depicts a body, its magnetic pole is usually near the navel.

In cross-section 40 03-T5327 5/18/2001 12:55 PM Page 41 Strange Attraction Figure 6. All of the roughly dozen magnetic sculptures which are known from Mesoamerica are found within the volcanic bedrock zone of piedmont Soconusco. Several other areas of volcanic bedrock exist in Mesoamerica, such as in the Tuxtla Mountains and along the Transverse Volcanic Axis which runs across the center of Mexico from Citlaltépetl (Orizaba) in the east to Volcán Colima in the west; however, in none of them did the local inhabitants recognize the presence of magnetic iron ore as they apparently did in Soconusco.

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