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Znanstveni dosežki Majev - znanost, tehnologija in religija

Znanstveni dosežki Majev - znanost, tehnologija in religija

Starodavne Maje, raznolika skupina staroselcev, ki so živeli v delih današnje Mehike, Belizeja, Gvatemale, Salvadorja in Hondurasa, so imeli eno najbolj izpopolnjenih in kompleksnih civilizacij na zahodni polobli. Med približno 300. in 900. letom našega štetja so bile Maje odgovorne za številne izjemne znanstvene dosežke - v astronomiji, kmetijstvu, inženiringu in komunikacijah.

Starodavne Maje

Majevska civilizacija je trajala več kot 2000 let, vendar je obdobje od približno 300 do 900 n.št., znano kot klasično obdobje, njen razcvet. V tem času so Maje razvile kompleksno razumevanje astronomije. Ugotovili so tudi, kako gojiti koruzo, fižol, bučo in manioko na včasih negostoljubnih krajih; kako zgraditi dovršena mesta brez sodobnih strojev; kako komunicirati med seboj z uporabo enega od prvih pisnih jezikov na svetu; in kako meriti čas z uporabo enega, ampak dveh zapletenih koledarskih sistemov.

PREBERITE ŠE: Zakaj so Maje zapustile svoja mesta

Majevska astronomija in izdelava koledarja

Maje so močno verjeli v vpliv kozmosa na vsakdanje življenje. Posledično so majevsko znanje in razumevanje nebesnih teles za svoj čas napredovali: na primer, znali so napovedati sončne mrke. Uporabili so tudi astrološke cikle za pomoč pri sajenju in žetvi ter razvili dva koledarja, ki sta tako natančna, kot jih uporabljamo danes.

Prvi, znan kot Koledarski krog, je temeljil na dveh prekrivajočih se letnih ciklih: 260-dnevnem svetem letu in 365-dnevnem posvetnem letu. Po tem sistemu so bili za vsak dan dodeljeni štirje identifikacijski podatki: številka dneva in ime dneva v svetem koledarju ter številka dneva in ime meseca v posvetnem koledarju. Vsakih 52 let se šteje kot en interval ali koledarski krog. Po vsakem intervalu bi se koledar ponastavil kot ura.

Ker je koledarski krog meril čas v neskončni zanki, je bil to slab način za določanje dogodkov v absolutni kronologiji ali v medsebojnem odnosu v daljšem časovnem obdobju. Za to službo je duhovnik, ki je delal približno leta 236 pr.n.št., razvil drug sistem: koledar, ki ga je imenoval Dolgo štetje. Sistem dolgega štetja je vsak dan identificiral s štetjem naprej od določenega datuma v daljni preteklosti. (V začetku 20. stoletja so znanstveniki ugotovili, da je bil ta »osnovni datum« 11. avgust ali 13. avgust 3114 pr. N. Št.) Združeval je dneve v sklope ali cikle: baktun (144.000 dni), k'atun (7.200 dni) ), tun (360 dni), uinal ali wininal (20 dni) in sorodniki (en dan).

Koledar dolgega štetja je deloval enako kot koledarski krog - krožil je skozi en interval za drugim - vendar je bil njegov interval, znan kot »veliki cikel«, veliko daljši. En veliki cikel je bil enak 13 baktunom ali približno 5.139 sončnim letom.

Piramida v Chichén Itzá

Maje so svoje napredno razumevanje astronomije vključili v svoje templje in druge verske strukture. Piramida v Chichén Itzá v Mehiki, na primer, leži glede na sončno lego med spomladanskim in jesenskim enakonočjem. Ob sončnem zahodu v teh dveh dneh piramida meče senco nase, ki je poravnana z izrezanjem glave majevskega boga kač. Senca tvori telo kače; ko sonce zahaja, se zdi, da kača zdrsne navzdol v Zemljo.

PREBERITE ŠE: Maje: civilizacija, kultura in imperij

Tehnologija Majev

Zanimivo je, da je starodavnim Majam uspelo zgraditi dovršene templje in velika mesta brez tistega, kar bi menili za bistvena orodja: kovine in kolesa. Vendar so uporabili številne druge "sodobne" inovacije in orodja, zlasti v dekorativni umetnosti. Na primer, zgradili so zapletene statve za tkanje tkanin in oblikovali mavrico bleščečih barv iz sljude, minerala, ki se še danes uporablja tehnološko.

Do nedavnega so ljudje verjeli, da je vulkanizacijo - kombiniranje gume z drugimi materiali, da bi bila bolj trpežna - odkril Američan (iz Connecticuta) Charles Goodyear v 19. stoletju. Vendar pa zgodovinarji zdaj mislijo, da so Maje proizvajale izdelke iz gume približno 3000 let, preden je Goodyear leta 1843 prejel patent.

Kako so to storili? Raziskovalci verjamejo, da so Maje ta proces odkrile po naključju med verskim obredom, v katerem so združile gumijasto drevo in rastlino jutranja slava. Ko so spoznali, kako močan in vsestranski je bil ta nov material, so ga Maje začeli uporabljati na različne načine: za izdelavo vodoodporne tkanine, lepila, vezav za knjige, figuric in velikih gumijastih kroglic, ki se uporabljajo v obredni igri, znani kot pokatok.

Propad Majev

Kljub izjemnim znanstvenim dosežkom Majev je njihova kultura začela upadati proti začetku 11. stoletja. Vzrok in obseg upada sta današnja razprava. Nekateri menijo, da je Maje izginila vojna, drugi pa svoj propad pripisujejo motenju njihovih trgovskih poti. Spet drugi menijo, da sta kmetijska praksa in dinamična rast Majev povzročila podnebne spremembe in krčenje gozdov. Medtem ko so španski osvajalci v 16. stoletju prevzeli večino tistega, kar je ostalo od starodavne kulture Majev, zapuščina majevskih znanstvenih dosežkov živi v odkritjih, ki jih arheologi še naprej odkrivajo o tej neverjetni starodavni kulturi.

OGLED: Celotne epizode Nepojasnjenega zdaj na spletu.


Mezopotamska znanost in tehnologija

Mezopotamska znanost in tehnologija se je razvila v obdobju Uruka (4100-2900 pr. N. Št.) In zgodnje dinastičnega obdobja (2900-1750 pr. Temelj prihodnjih mezopotamskih napredkov v znanstvenem/tehnološkem napredku so postavili Sumerci, ki so najprej raziskali prakso znanstvene hipoteze, se ukvarjali s tehnološkimi inovacijami in ustvarili pisano besedo, razvili matematiko, astronomijo in astrologijo ter celo oblikovali koncept čas sam. Nekateri najpomembnejši izumi Sumercev so bili:

  • Kolo
  • Jadro
  • The Corbeled Arch/True Arch
  • Namakanje in kmetijski pripomočki
  • Zemljevidi
  • Matematika
  • Čas in ure
  • Astronomija in astrologija
  • Zdravila in kirurgija

Sumerci so te stvari ustvarili, da bi izboljšali svoje življenje, vendar so morali to ugotoviti z opazovanjem obstoječega problema in predlaganjem rešitve, ki je bila nato preizkušena. Nekateri učenjaki nasprotujejo uporabi izrazov "znanost" ali "znanstvena metoda" pri sklicevanju na sumerske/mezopotamske izume in inovacije, ker je vera igrala tako pomembno vlogo v življenju ljudi, volja bogov pa je veljala za končnega in edinega dejavnika. o delovanju vesolja in življenja na zemlji.

Oglas

Kljub temu je "znanstvena metoda" najnatančnejši izraz za to, kako so ljudje ravnali, ker so si Mezopotamci, čeprav so se držali teističnega koncepta življenja, dovolili, da si predstavljajo svet, ki deluje po določenih naravnih zakonih, in poskušali ugotoviti kako so postavili temelje za znanstveno raziskovanje, ki so ga kasneje razvili egipčanski in nato grški misleci in se bo nadaljevalo do danes.

Temeljni obrazec

To ne pomeni, da so se ljudje v starodavni Mezopotamiji ukvarjali z istovrstno znanstveno preiskavo, na enak način, kot bi to počeli danes, in tisti, ki nasprotujejo uporabi besede "znanost" ali izraza "znanstvena metoda" "glede Mezopotamije imajo veljavno točko. Mezopotamci so verjeli, da so bogovi ustvarili red iz kaosa in nato ustvarili človeška bitja kot svoje sodelavce za vzdrževanje tega reda. Ker so bili bogovi glavni vzrok vseh stvari, vidnih ali nevidnih, se zdi, da je bil cilj različnih inovacij ali izumov razumeti, kako ta red deluje, in delati z bogovi, da bi ga ohranili.

Oglas

To ohranjanje je bilo v obliki izboljšanja osnovnih "stvari" življenja, ki so jih dobili ljudje, kar je zahtevalo opazovanje ljudi, oblikovanje neke vrste hipoteze o tem, kako je deloval vidik življenja, preizkušanje te hipoteze in zaključek. Čeprav to sledi bistveni obliki "znanstvene metode" v današnjem času, so bili končni razlog za kakršne koli opazne pojave bogovi, zato bi se namesto spraševanja, zakaj je nekaj tako delovalo, postavilo vprašanje, kako je delovalo in kako izboljšati je v skladu z vlogo človeštva kot sodelavca pri bogovih.

Starodavni sumerski kmet se ni vprašal: "Zakaj so moja polja neplodna, ko so polja mojega soseda rodovitna?" ker je bil očiten odgovor, da je to volja bogov. Vprašanje bi bilo "Kako naj vplivam na voljo bogov, da bodo moja polja rodovitna?" Mogoče je, da so bogovi od tega kmeta preprosto zahtevali večja predanost, lahko pa tudi, da so bogovi želeli, da bi oseba naredila nekaj, česar drugače ne bi storil, in so jim tako namenoma predali ta izziv, da bi si izmislili sistem namakanja in več ljudi, kot da bi en kmet zdaj imel vodo za svojo zemljo.

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Zdi se, da je bila nujno mati izuma, vendar so bili vsi ti izumi v skladu z osnovno obliko urejenega sveta bogov. Stvari so bile takšne, kot so bile, in ena od nalog je bila sprejeti izzive, ki so jih postavili bogovi, izboljšati, kar bi lahko izboljšali, in sprejeti tisto, česar ne bi mogli spremeniti.

Kolo, jadro in pisanje

Dva najpomembnejša izuma Mezopotamije sta pisanje in kolo. Čeprav nekateri znanstveniki trdijo, da je kolo nastalo v Srednji Aziji (ker je bilo tam najdeno najstarejše kolo na svetu), je splošno sprejeto, da je koncept izviral iz Sumera zaradi proizvodnje keramike. Domneva se, da se je kolo razvilo iz potrebe po izdelavi boljše in več keramike v krajšem času. Lončarsko kolo so nato prilagodili za ustvarjanje vozičkov, kasneje pa vozov, za prevoz blaga in preprosto hitrejše premikanje z enega kraja na drugega.

Oglas

Enaka paradigma naj bi veljala tudi za izum jadra, ki se je najverjetneje začel preprosto z opazovanjem vpliva vetra na kos tkanine, po možnosti, ko se je po pranju sušil. Ugotovljeno je bilo, da bi večja tkanina ujela več vetra in bi lahko pomagala lažje in hitreje krmariti po rekah. To bi bilo še posebej pomembno v trgovini, saj so bile vodne poti najprimernejša pot, vendar je bilo težje in počasneje hoditi navzgor proti toku kot navzdol. Jadro bi to težavo odpravilo z zagotavljanjem vetrne energije za dopolnitev ali zamenjavo veslačev.

Pisanje je bilo izumljeno c. 3600-3500 pr. N. Št. Kot sredstvo za prenos informacij na velike razdalje v trgovini. Najstarejše pisanje so bile osnovne slike, ki so lahko posredovale informacije v smislu "dveh ovac - tempelj v Uruku", vendar niso mogle pojasniti, kakšen naj bi bil namen teh dveh ovac, ali naj ju pripeljejo v tempelj ali iz njega, pa naj bodo mrtvi ali živi. Učenjak Samuel Noah Kramer komentira:

Verjetno je bilo pred približno pet tisoč leti Sumerci zaradi svojih gospodarskih in upravnih potreb prišli na idejo pisanja na glini. Njihovi prvi poskusi so bili surovi in ​​piktografski, zato so jih lahko uporabili le za najpreprostejše administrativne zapise. Toda v naslednjih stoletjih so sumerski pismouki in učitelji postopoma tako spreminjali in oblikovali svoj sistem pisanja, da je popolnoma izgubil svoj piktografski značaj in postal zelo konvencionalen in čisto fonetičen sistem pisanja. V drugi polovici tretjega tisočletja pred našim štetjem je sumerska tehnika pisanja postala dovolj plastična in prilagodljiva, da je brez težav izražala najbolj zapletene zgodovinske in literarne skladbe. (Zgodovina se začne v Sumerju, xxi)

Ta pisni sistem je znan kot klinopis, iz latinskega cuneus za "klin", ker so bile besede napisane s pritiskom klinaste pisala v vlažno glino, ki so jo nato posušili. Sumerci sami niso pisali svojega pisanja s klinopisom-to je sodobna oznaka-niti nobena od drugih civilizacij, ki so ga kasneje uporabljale. Klinasto pisanje se je razširilo iz Sumera in so ga sčasoma uporabile druge velike civilizacije Mezopotamije in Anatolije, med drugim:

Oglas

Že leta 3200 pred našim štetjem je bil ta pisni sistem že dovolj napreden, da je zahteval nekakšen slovar-znan kot leksikalna besedila-, ki je določene simbole opredelil kot besede in sčasoma prevedel besedno besedo v sumersko, akadsko in Hetit. Klinopis je bil uporabljen za ustvarjanje vseh vrst istih dokumentov, na katere bi si lahko mislili v današnjem času, od osebnih pisem do poslovnih sporazumov, zemljiških listin, potrdil, računov, pravnih obvestil, zgodovin in literature. Ep o Gilgamešu je bila napisana s klinastim pismom, prav tako pa so bile himne Enheduanne in mojstrovine žanra mezopotamske literature Naru. Pisavni sistem je ostal v uporabi, dokler ga nekoč ni nadomestila abecedna pisava c. 100 pr.

Kmetijstvo, arhitektura in država

Sumerci so v kmetijstvu ustvarili namakalne prakse, sejalnico, plug in kramp in zdi se, da so izumili tudi napravo, znano kot Arhimedov vijak, veliko pred Grki. Arhimedov vijak je naprava, ki črpa vodo z nižjih na višje ravni (na primer podtalnico do namakalnih jarkov). Pivovarstvo in pivovarska kad sta se razvila tudi iz kmetijske prakse, saj naj bi pivo odkrili s fermentiranimi zrni. Sumerci so izumili tudi vladno birokracijo, ki je nadzorovala in urejala pridelavo in distribucijo pridelkov. Kramer ugotavlja:

Čeprav so Sumerci posamezniku in njegovemu dosežku postavljali visoko vrednost, je bil en pomemben dejavnik, ki je spodbujal močan duh sodelovanja med posamezniki in skupnostmi: popolna odvisnost Sumera od namakanja zaradi njegove blaginje-pravzaprav zaradi samega sebe obstoj. Namakanje je zapleten proces, ki zahteva skupni trud in organizacijo. Kanale je bilo treba izkopati in stalno vzdrževati. Vodo je bilo treba enakomerno porazdeliti med vse vpletene. Da bi to zagotovili, je bila obvezna moč, ki je bila močnejša od posameznega posestnika ali celo posamezne skupnosti: torej rast vladnih institucij in vzpon sumerske države. (Sumerci, 5)

Koncept države je nastal iz majhnih skupnih organizacij, znanih kot »gospodinjstva«, katerih člani niso bili vsi sorodniki po krvi, ampak so imeli skupne interese in običajno nekaj zemlje. Stroga hierarhija je urejala gospodinjstva z »velikim moškim« (znanim kot an ensi in kasneje a lugal) na vrhu, njegova žena pod njim, drugi pa do nekvalificiranih delavcev. Začetna gospodinjstva so se sčasoma razvila v vladajoče hiše, ko so se razvijala mesta in pojavljal se je koncept kraljevanja.

Oglas

Mesta so bila osredotočena na tempeljski kompleks in ti kompleksi so zahtevali razvoj monumentalne arhitekture v čast bogovom, ki bi v njih živeli. Vsako mesto je imelo svoj tempelj in svojega boga in vsako je potrebovalo, da je njihov tempeljski kompleks bolj impresiven kot katera koli druga. Mimo templja pa so mesta zahtevala stavbe z vrati, hodniki in prostori, zato je bilo treba najti nekaj sredstev za njihovo oblikovanje. Učenjak Stephen Bertman pojasnjuje, kako se je ta izziv spopadel:

Inženirska rešitev se je izkazala za lok, sumerski izum četrtega tisočletja pr. Lok je ustvaril odprtino, hkrati pa je nosil težo. Njegova skrivnost je bila prenašanje te teže navzven in nato navzdol v tla, namesto da bi jo nosili izključno nase. Inženirji so z izgradnjo vrste takšnih lokov lahko zgradili oboke, ki so služili kot predori. Poleg oblikovanja prehodov je bil lok močan in učinkovit način za podporo nadgradnje: zaradi svoje odprtosti je potreboval manj opeke ali kamna kot stena podobne velikosti s podobno težo. (190)

Prvi med njimi je bil strešni lok (zgrajen iz »stopnic«, ki so postavljene v niz, ki se na vrhu postopoma zožuje in zapira), ki se je kasneje razvil v pravi lok. Pravi in ​​ukrivljeni lok bi uporabljale druge civilizacije od Egipčanov do Grkov in, kar je najbolj znano, Rim.

Ko so mesta rasla, sta rasla trgovina in zemljevidi, ki so merili razdaljo in smer med mestnimi državami Sumer in tistimi v severni Mezopotamiji ter oddaljenimi deželami, kot sta Egipt in Indija. Zemljevidi so bili narejeni bodisi z odtisi na vlažni glini - po klinopisu - bodisi z izrezovanjem slik na drugem materialu. Razdalje so merili z drugim mezopotamskim razvojem: matematiko.

Matematika, čas in astronomija/Astrologija

Matematika se je verjetno razvila iz trgovine kot nujnosti v knjigovodstvu, vendar je bila očitno pomemben vidik arhitekture pri načrtovanju in gradnji mest in njihovih templjev. Zdi se, da so med gradnjo teh velikih mest in velikih struktur Sumerci izumili matematično paradigmo pitagorejskega izreka stoletja pred življenjem Pitagore. To ni presenetljivo, saj so bila mezopotamska mesta znana kot velika središča učenja in kulture - predvsem Babilon iz c. 1792 - c. 600 pred našim štetjem, kjer naj bi študiral grški filozof Tales iz Mileta.

Mezopotamci so razvili zelo izpopolnjen matematični sistem s šestdesetletnim zapisom mesta (osnova 60, današnja osnova pa 10). Ta sistem je vključeval seštevanje, odštevanje, množenje, deljenje, algebro, geometrijo, vzajemne vrednosti, kvadrate in kvadratne enačbe. Seksagesimalna osnova jih je navdihnila, da so ustvarili čas na podlagi koncepta 60, zato je bila ura definirana kot 60 minut in minuta 60 sekund. Čas so merili s sončno uro ali vodno uro, obdobje sončnega vzhoda do zahajanja in ponovnega vzhoda pa je bilo razdeljeno na obdobja 12 za dnevno svetlobo in 12 za temo, kar je ustvarilo 24-urni dan.

Ti dnevi so bili nato izračunani, da sestavljajo leto, in da bi vedeli, kateri letni časi so optimalni za kakšne dejavnosti, se je astronomija razvila tako, da je zapisala zvezde in povedala letne čase, kar je pripeljalo do oblikovanja koledarja. Mezopotamci so uporabljali lunisolarni koledar, v katerem se vsak mesec začne s prvim opazovanjem polmeseca. Začetni poskusi opredelitve leta niso dosegli pravega sončnega leta, toda do 17. stoletja pred našim štetjem se je astronomija razvila do te mere, da je bilo leto in drugi časovni cikli dobro opredeljeni.

Kartiranje zvezd je bilo tako kot vse ostalo interpretirano kot ravnanje v skladu z voljo bogov, zato je bilo povsem naravno, da bodo sčasoma vedeževalci prišli razlagati nekatere astronomske pojave kot sporočila bogov - in tako je bila astrologija ustvarjeno. V Mezopotamiji so vedeževanje izvajali že pred nastankom astrologije s žrtvovanjem živali in razlago njihovih drobovj ali podobnih metod. Astrologija pa je prevladovala pri vedeževanju, ker so bili znaki vidni kot jasnejše sporočilo neposredno od bogov glede prihodnosti in celo narave naroda ali posameznika. Znaki zodiaka, ki so določali človekovo osnovno lastnost ter kratkotrajno in dolgoročno usodo, so bili koncepti, ki so jih prvič ustvarili v Mezopotamiji, nato pa so jih kasneje razvili Egipčani in Grki.

Medicina in zdravniki

Ta isti model velja za zdravstveno varstvo, saj veliko praks, povezanih z Egiptom in Grčijo, izvira iz Mezopotamije. Sumerska boginja zdravja in zdravljenja je bila Gula (pozneje v drugih regijah znana kot Ninkarrak in Ninisinna), pogosto upodobljena v prisotnosti njenega psa, saj so bili psi povezani tudi z zdravljenjem, zdravjem in zaščito. Gula je skupaj s svojim psom skrbela za ljudi s pomočjo svoje soproge Pabilsag, njene hčerke Gunurre in njenih dveh sinov Damuja in Ninazuja.

Ninazu je bil povezan z vsakodnevnim zdravjem, pa tudi s smrtjo in umiranjem v tistem, ki je dal življenje, in je našel življenje na drugem svetu. Smrt se ni štela za konec življenja, ampak za prehod, čeprav so jo ljudje raje odložili čim dlje. Ninazujev simbol je bila palica, prepletena s kačami - saj so kače predstavljale preobrazbo bodisi iz bolezni v zdravje bodisi iz življenja v posmrtno življenje - in se bo kasneje razvila v kaducej v Grčiji, ki je danes simbol medicinske stroke.

V Mezopotamiji sta bili dve vrsti zdravnikov:

  • Asu - zdravnik, ki je predpisal različna zdravljenja bolezni ali poškodbe
  • Asipu - celostni zdravilec, ki se je zanašal na čarobne uroke, amulete in čarovnije

Oba strokovnjaka sta bila obravnavana z enakim spoštovanjem in sta v nekaterih primerih sodelovala skupaj. Moški in ženske so lahko zdravniki, čeprav so bile zdravnice redke.

Mezopotamska medicinska besedila navajajo diagnoze in recepte ter kirurške tehnike in metode za določanje zlomljenih kosti. Bolezen in poškodbe so bile posledica greha, ki je povzročil neuravnoteženost osebe in razjezil bogove. Ena od odgovornosti zdravnika je bila zato, da je bolnik priznal kakršno koli napako in obljubil, da bo v prihodnje bolje. Zdravnik bi nato predpisal potek zdravljenja, ki bi pacienta vrnil v ravnovesje in ugajal bogovom, ki bi mu nato »odstranili roko« od osebe in ji povrnili zdravje.

Bolnikova izpoved ustreza kasnejši grški praksi, ki jo je predlagal Hipokrat, da bi moral zdravnik začeti zdravljenje tako, da bi bolnika vprašal, kaj je počel, kar je lahko povzročilo poškodbo ali bolezen, ki je v sodobnem času znana kot zdravnik, ki je bolnikovo anamnezo. Zdravniki so redno izvajali operacije, razumeli so, da čistoča in umivanje rok izboljšajo bolnikovo zdravje (čeprav niso vedeli za klice), in se zavedali pomena stalnega utripa in drugih znakov splošnega počutja. Delovali so tudi kot spolni terapevti, poročni svetovalci in eksorcisti.

Zaključek

Mezopotamska znanost in tehnologija sta obvestili poznejše discipline drugih civilizacij, ki so jih še naprej razvijale. Učenjak Paul Kriwaczek povzema pomen njihovih prispevkov:

Večina osnovne tehnologije, ki je podpirala človeško življenje, dokler industrijska proizvodnja pred dvema stoletjema ni začela zavzemati našega sveta, je bila prvič zasnovana v tem času in v tem delu sveta: doma pivovarska kad, lončarska peč in tekstilni statve na poljih plug, sejalnica in kmetijski voziček po rekah in kanalih vetrnica in jadrnica v glasbi harfa, lira in lutnja v gradbeni tehnologiji opečena opeka, obok in pravi lok . (47)

Samuel Noah Kramer v svojem ikoničnem delu Zgodovina se začne v Sumerju, raziskuje "39 prvih" - devetintrideset vidikov civilizacije - od katerih so bili mnogi kasneje pripisani grškim izumiteljem -, ki so se prvič pojavili v Sumerju med Urukom in zgodnjim dinastičnim obdobjem Mezopotamije. Ta napredek v kulturi, znanosti in tehnologiji še vedno obvešča svet današnjega časa.


Vsebina

Koledarski sistem Olmec, predkolumbijska civilizacija, ki živi v tropskih nižinah južne osrednje Mehike, je zahteval napredno razumevanje matematike. Številčni sistem Olmec je temeljil na 20 namesto decimalnih in je uporabljal tri simbole- piko za enega, stolpec za pet in lupinast simbol za nič. Koncept nič je eden največjih dosežkov Olmekov. Dovoljeval je zapisovanje števil po položaju in dopuščal zapletene izračune. Čeprav izum ničle pogosto pripisujejo Majem, so ga prvotno zasnovali Olmeki.

Da bi napovedali čas sajenja in žetve, so zgodnja ljudstva preučevala gibanje sonca, zvezd in planetov. Te podatke so uporabili za izdelavo koledarjev. Azteki so ustvarili dva koledarja- enega za kmetijstvo in enega za vero. Kmetijski koledar jim daje vedeti, kdaj saditi in pobirati pridelke. Azteški koledarski kamen, izkopan leta 1790 v Mexico Cityju, vsebuje podatke o mesecih v letu in slike boga sonca v središču.

Po ustanovitvi podkraljevstva Nove Španije so Španci znanstveno kulturo, ki je prevladovala v Španiji, prinesli v Vicekraljevino Nove Španije. [3]

Frančiškanski red je leta 1536 na mestu azteške šole ustanovil prvo visokošolsko šolo v Ameriki, Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco. [4]

Občinska oblast (cabildo) iz Mexico Cityja uradno zaprosil špansko krono za ustanovitev univerze leta 1539. [5] Kraljevska in papeška univerza v Mehiki (Real y Pontificia Universidad de México) je bila ustanovljena leta 1551. Univerzo je upravljala duhovščina in je bila uradna univerza cesarstva. Ljudem je zagotavljal kakovostno izobraževanje in je bil središče intelektualnega in verskega razvoja v regiji. Poučeval je predmete, kot sta fizika in matematika z vidika aristotelovske filozofije. Avguštinski filozof Alonso Gutiérrez je leta 1553 postal prvi profesor na Mehiški univerzi. On je pisal Fizične špekulacije, prvo znanstveno besedilo v Ameriki, leta 1557. Do konca 18. stoletja je univerza usposobila 1.162 zdravnikov, 29.882 diplomantov in veliko pravnikov. [3]

Don Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, ki so ga izobraževali jezuiti v Mehiki, je pokazal osupljivo znanje v znanosti in matematiki. Konec 17. stoletja je dobil katedro za matematiko in astronomijo na Mehiški univerzi. Sigüenza je izpodbijal uradno doktrino, da so kometi božji znaki katastrofe, in zagovarjal njihov naravni izvor. Velja za prvega znanstvenika kolonialne Mehike, ki je podvomil o skolastiki, ki je prežemala univerzo in večino družbe.


Znanstveni dosežki Majev - znanost, tehnologija in vera - ZGODOVINA

Mnogi največji dosežki Majev izvirajo iz klasičnega obdobja (okoli 300 do 900 n.št.). Sto let kasneje so njihove ideje in prakse še naprej vplivale na druge mezoameriške skupine, vključno z Azteki.

Znanost in tehnologija Maje so naredile pomembne preboje v astronomiji in matematiki. Po deželah Majev so duhovniki preučevali nebo z opazovalnic. Z veliko natančnostjo so lahko spremljali gibanje zvezd in planetov. Maje so s svojimi opažanji izračunali sončnega leta . Številka Majev za njihovo leto 365,2420 dni je neverjetno natančna.

Ti izračuni so Majem omogočili, da so ustvarili svoj sončni koledar za 365 dni. Imeli so tudi sveti 260-dnevni koledar. Vsakih 52 let je prvi datum v obeh koledarjih padel na isti dan. To je Majem dalo daljšo časovno enoto, ki so jo imenovali koledarski krog. Za starodavne Maje je bilo to 52-letno obdobje nekaj takega, kar je za nas stoletje.

Majevska astronomija in izdelava koledarja sta bila odvisna od globokega razumevanja matematike. Na nek način je bil majevski številčni sistem podoben našemu. Maji so tako kot mi uporabljali mestne vrednosti za številke. Namesto da bi temeljili na številki 10, je njihov sistem temeljil na 20. Torej so namesto namestitvenih vrednosti za 1s, 10s in 100s Maje imele mestne vrednosti za 1s, 20s, 400s (20 krat 20) itd. naprej.

Maji so priznali tudi potrebo po ničli - odkritju nekaj drugih zgodnjih civilizacij. V majevskem sistemu za pisanje številk je pika pomenila eno, stolpec pet in simbol lupine za nič. Za seštevanje in odštevanje so ljudje postavili dve številki in nato združili ali odstranili pike in črtice.

Umetnost in arhitektura Maje so bili enako nadarjeni za umetnost. Slikali so z barvami, pomešanimi iz mineralov in rastlin. Umetnost slikarjev Majev lahko vidimo v poslikavah Bonampak, ki so jih našli v Chiapasu v Mehiki. Freske prikazujejo plemiče in duhovnike ter prizore bitk, slovesnosti in obrede žrtvovanja.

Maji so zgradili tudi pokončne kamnite plošče, imenovane stele (STEE-leez), ki so ga pogosto postavljali pred templje. Večina stel je stala med 5 in 12 čevljev, čeprav so se nekatere dvignile tudi do 30 čevljev. Steles je imel običajno tridimenzionalne rezbarije bogov in vladarjev. Včasih so jim Maje v čast pomembnih dogodkov vpisali datume in hieroglife.

Druga pomembna umetnost je bilo tkanje. Po stelah in slikah vemo, da so Maje tkale pisane tkanine v zapletenih vzorcih. Ženske so izdelovale vezene tunike, imenovane huipiles in oblikovane dolžine tkanin za trgovino. Maje ženske še danes uporabljajo podobne tehnike. Še vedno izdelujejo huipile v tradicionalnih oblikah. Ljudje iz različnih mest se razlikujejo po barvah in vzorcih oblačil.

V arhitekturi so Maje gradili tempelj-piramide iz ročno izrezanih apnenčastih opek. Nenavadna značilnost majevskih zgradb je bila vrsta oboka, imenovana rob iz korbla. Gradbeniki so zlagali kamenje tako, da so se postopoma nagnili drug proti drugemu, da so oblikovali trikotni lok. Na vrhu loka, kjer so se kamni skoraj dotikali, se je en kamen združil z obema stranema. Na loku je bilo vedno devet kamnitih plasti, ki predstavljajo devet plasti podzemlja (kraj, kamor naj bi duše odšle po smrti).

Jezik in pisanje Maji so v starodavni Ameriki razvili najbolj zapleten sistem pisanja. Za predstavitev zvokov, besed in idej so uporabljali hieroglife ali slikovne simbole. Hieroglifski napisi so bili najdeni na kamnitih posodah in drugih artefaktih iz leta 300 pr.

Sčasoma so Maje ustvarile na stotine glifi . Sčasoma so lahko pisarji v govorjenem jeziku zapisali karkoli. Pogosto so pisali o vladarjih, zgodovini, mitih in bogovih ter o astronomiji.

Vse skupine Majev nimajo istega jezika. Namesto tega so govorili sorodno narečja . Danes približno štirje milijoni mezoamerikancev še vedno govorijo eno od tridesetih majevskih narečij.


Maja verjame v Mlečno pot in ozvezdja

Maji so zelo spoštovali kozmos in Mlečno pot. Tradicionalno je v kulturi Majev veljalo, da je Mlečna pot "drevo življenja". Posamezne zvezde so oblikovale edinstveno življenjsko moč. Tako kot ozvezdja sedanjega časa so imele Maje svoja ozvezdja, ki so bila nekoliko drugačna od sedanjih. Imeli so ozvezdja, kot so želva, jaguar in netopir. Imeli so celo ozvezdje, ki se je zdelo kot morska pošast! Vendar je bil pomen zvezd omejen le na študijo letnih časov in napovedi, kdaj bodo prišli in odšli. To znanje je koristilo njihovi agrarni družbi.


Kaj so bili trije veliki dosežki civilizacije Majev?

Trije veliki dosežki civilizacije Majev so bili v arhitekturi, astronomiji in matematiki. Ljudje Maje so bili veliki graditelji, ki so gradili ceste, velika mesta in templje. Mayan cities had magnificent palaces, monuments with intricate designs and temple pyramids that are still evident today.

Pyramid temples, which were constructed for their gods, often incorporated elements of advanced Mayan astronomy, such as the temple of Chichen Itza. The Maya were skilled astronomers that understood astrological cycles, which was important for agriculture and the planting of crops. Calendar making was related to astronomy, and the Maya created round and long calendars. The Maya also were good mathematicians and had a numbering system, which was 20-based.


Lost Technology of Maya Civilization Discovered

The century old question of how Maya engineers constructed their grand high-rise cities and other advanced technical feats have been a complete mystery to archaeology. Archaeologists studying the Maya Civilization have concentrated on the advanced sciences including astronomy as accurate as modem computing, elegant higher mathematics using only three symbols and one of the five original written languages on the planet. While the pure sciences have been glorified by archaeology, the Technology of the Maya has been totally neglected. Now the mysteries of Maya technology have been revealed by Archaeo-engineer James O’Kon in his book: The lost secrets of Maya Archaeology. His revelations of surprising Maya technical achievements were uncovered by exploration of ancient Maya cities deep in the rainforest.

The Maya were a science based civilization that dwelt in the rainforest of the Yucatan peninsula. The Maya developed a scientific civilization in the total isolation this tropical hot land, their civilization was inspired by a cosmic philosophy that venerated time and the glory of the universe. The Maya civilization was the longest lived in the history of the planet. The civilization extended from 1800 BC to 900 AD, it ended when the civilization mysteriously collapsed and the grand cities were abandoned to the rainforest.

The Maya civilization was unknown to the world until rediscovered in 1839 and celebrated in a series of books by John Lloyd Stephens. In the last 171 years the Maya civilization has become popular and extensive archaeological efforts have been expended on discovery, excavating and consolidating the ruined cities while assembling their history and breaking the code of their complex written script.

Archaeology has concentrated on the art, architecture and the sciences of the civilization and has totally neglected the advanced technology that constructed the grand cities, water systems, roads and bridges . All are amazed at the exotic architecture, tall structures, and infrastructure of their grand cities. Regardless of the obvious technological wonders that were constructed by Maya engineers. Archaeologists consider the Maya to be a Stone Age people because they did not possess metal tools. Due to this “Stone Age” mindset archaeology has totally neglected the study of Maya technology. Archaeologists are trained in anthropology and art history and are not schooled in science or technology. They do not recognize the brilliant technology that the Maya used that constructed their grand cities, infrastructures, paved roadways and long span bridges. The study of Maya technology was an open field when James O’Kon began his quest for the truth.

The author is a professional civil and forensic engineer who has studied the ancient cities of the Maya for over forty years. His professional experience and scientific training has enabled him to recognize the advanced technology the Maya used to construct their cities, construct water management systems, build paved highways, and construct the longest bridge in the ancient world. His inquires to archaeologists were answered by folk tales about Maya capabilities with a comment that they were not capable of technical feats because they were only a “Stone Age” culture.

This attitude became a challenge and initiated his quest to search out and identify Maya technical capabilities. His quest has been fulfilled he has identified numerous examples of Maya technology throughout the domain. His investigation included field investigation, remote sensing, and forensic engineering analysis using digital tools to virtually reconstruct lost technology with three?dimensional software.

His discoveries, analysis and detailed technical methodology are the topic of the book. His narrative recounts the thrill of discovery and the adventure of his quest. The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology have been identified and their capabilities proven using scientific tools including thermodynamics, physics, chemistry, structural mechanics, hydraulics, and geology.

The book details field discoveries and scientific proof of Maya technical skills including:

  1. Astronomical calculations of the end date: December 21, 2012 and what it really means
  2. Fabrication of jadeite tools that are harder than steel
  3. Fabrication of cement using blast furnace technology, 1850 years before it was patented in Europe
  4. Development of cast-in-place concrete building materials and structural mechanics that introduced high?rise long span structures to the grand Maya cities.
  5. Development of water management system to collect, store and distribute water for the grand cities
  6. Construction of wide, all-weather, concrete paved roads elevated a above the jungle floor
  7. Invention of the vulcanization of rubber 2600 years before Charles Goodyear was born
  8. Construction of long span bridges including the longest span in the ancient world
  9. Development of man powered transport that is more efficient than beasts of burden
  10. Design and construction of large sea going cargo vessels that enhanced their trade capabilities

O’Kon describes the history of the Maya, their rediscovery, their motivation for scientific and numerous technological breakthroughs, concluding with the collapse of the Maya civilization. The over populated cities depended on advanced technology for water supply and agriculture, so when a cataclysmic natural disaster enveloped the Yucatan Maya technology failed them, the civilization was decimated and doomed.

As we can see, the Maya were an extremely advanced society that archeologists have been looking at wrongly, classifying it as a more primitive “stone age” society when they were really much more than that. The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology uncovers this fascinating history and sheds light on how archeologists may even be looking at other civilizations the wrong way as well.

Book Description and Comments

The Maya have been an enigma since their discovery in the mid- 19th century. Maya science developed an elegant mathematic system, an incredibly accurate astronomy, and one of the world’s five original written languages. This technology was more advanced than similar European technology by more than a thousand years.

In this book, you’ll see how James O’Kon, a professional engineer, synergistically applied field exploration, research, forensic engineering, and 3-D virtual reconstruction of Maya projects to discover lost Maya technological achievements. These lost principles of technology enabled Maya engineers to construct grand cities that towered above the rainforest, water systems with underground reservoirs for water storage, miles of all-weather paved roads tracking through the jungle, and the longest bridge in the ancient world.

Maya engineers developed structural mechanics for multi-story buildings that were not exceeded in height until the first “skyscraper” built in Chicago in 1885, invented the blast furnace 2,000 years before it was patented in England, and developed the vulcanization of rubber more than 2,600 years before Charles Goodyear. Discover a host of unknown wonders in The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology.

  • The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology reveals what a scientifically advanced people the Maya really were. Relying on his background as a professional engineer, James O’Kon is able to analyze Maya architecture and write about it with the scientific terminology it truly merits. The book places Maya engineers shoulder to shoulder with the Romans or any other ancient culture one could compare them against. As an archaeologist with 20+ years of field experience, this book opened my eyes to Maya scientific achievements that I would previously not thought possible.” –Edwin Barnhart, Ph.D., archaeologist and Director of Maya Exploration Center
  • “James O’Kon’s book addresses a neglected field, and his wide-ranging discussion sheds new light on many aspects of Maya studies. His training as an engineer keeps the book focused on reality. His writing is full of sudden insights…when he gets to the nitty-gritty of real science, this book shines. The final chapter addresses the engineering flaws that led to their fall…they pushed their environment too far.” –Mark Van Stone, Ph.D., author of 2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya
  • “Great introduction to the unrecognized technological achievements of the Maya. This was my first introduction to Maya tool making. I found those chapters very interesting. Very informative well written and provided me with new material on Maya technology.” –Thomas L. Sever, Ph.D., NASA Archaeologist

O avtorju

James A. O’Kon, P.E. is a professional engineer with decades of experience designing award-winning projects. He has also spent 40 years investigating Maya engineering feats and lost Maya technology. His investigations have taken him to more than 50 remote Maya sites. He has delivered numerous scientific papers to scientific symposia dealing with Maya technology. He was inducted into the Explorers Club as a National Fellow for his work on Maya technology. A resident of Atlanta, he is currently an expert witness on construction failures and a problem-solving consultant to global corporations when he is not in the rainforest. Read more about him at www.theoldexplorer.com

Življenjepis

James O’Kon, P.E. has pursued a lifelong passion for Maya archaeology and he has combined his unique professional engineering experience with the search for lost Maya technology. He has applied his engineering talents to explore and investigate Maya sites located deep in the dense rainforest. Traveling by dugout canoe, hacking his way through the tangled jungle while fighting off millions of insects and sleeping in tents, his search went on for lost secrets of Maya technology. With the collected field data he was able to utilize digital tools, along with his creative engineering skills, to verify feats of Maya engineering and virtually reconstruct the mysteries of Maya engineering technologies.

His interest in archaeology began while playing in the Civil War trenches covering the hills near his boyhood home in Atlanta where rusted military armament and wasted shot was easily found on the battlefield sites. His early reading interest included classic books dealing with the Spanish Conquest and the rediscovery of the Maya civilization which stimulated his interest in archaeology. His student days at Georgia Tech were filled with learning the technology of modern civil engineering. His college experience at Georgia Tech produced a problem-solving engineer with writing and illustration skills. His athletic training at Georgia Tech gave him the strength and stamina to endure arduous jungle expeditions.

After several years of experience as a structural engineer designing aerospace structures like rocket launch towers and vertical assembly buildings, he elected to take a yearlong sabbatical to live in Spain. Visiting ancient European cities was an exciting experience for a young man who grew up in Atlanta, the only American city that was ever completely destroyed by war. Just the sight of a building constructed before 1865 was a thrill. Returning to the USA he resumed his career as an engineer for several years until the Maya ruins called to him and he and his family headed south of the boarder, in a VW camper, through Mexico and into British Honduras where he explored and lived among ancient Maya cities for a year. This is when he first felt an affinity with the Maya engineers that had constructed these wondrous cities. He had questions about their construction that could not be answered by archaeologists. This began his quest for the truth surrounding the brilliant Maya engineering technologies.

Returning to the United States, he worked in New York City designing landmark structures, like the Roosevelt Island Tramway, aviation projects and aerospace structures. In 1973 he returned to Atlanta to operate a branch office of the firm he worked for in New York. He subsequently bought the firm in 1977 and expanded the practice to include architecture and design in addition to engineering. He led this firm to develop a national reputation for designing award-winning aviation facilities, and his ability to think outside the box enabled him to become a forensic engineer in the investigation of high profile building failures.

His investigation of Maya technologies continued parallel to his creative design projects. He often traveled to the Yucatan to explore remote Maya sites. His breakthrough revelation in Maya engineering projects was the discovery of the ruins of a Maya suspension bridge over the Usumacinta River at the ancient Maya city of Yaxchilan. This is the river that divides Mexico from Guatemala and the discovery and proof of the existence of this Maya bridge is the topic of this History Channel production. Additional investigation revealed other examples of Maya technology that are outstanding examples of engineering achievements that the Maya utilized a thousand years in advance of European technology.

His discoveries in Maya technology have been recognized in National Geographic Magazine and the monthly magazine the American Society of Civil Engineers, Civil Engineering, in addition to other scholarly publications. He has been invited to deliver numerous scientific papers dealing with his discoveries in Maya technology at international scientific and archaeological symposia.

His civil engineering education at Georgia Tech and an advanced degree from New York University gave him an excellent background for his professional career which has been devoted to bringing high-tech science to engineering. He is a registered Professional Engineer in over 15 states and has developed new computer techniques for engineering design and new methodologies for investigating distressed structures. This experience gave him the ability to “reverse engineer” complex distressed buildings and identify the cause of the distress. This same experience has enabled him to discover, dissect, analyze and reconstruct lost Maya technologies. He brought all these special talents to the research and writing of his book, The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology.

Relevant Links

Reprinted, with permission of the publisher, from THE LOST SECRETS OF MAYA TECHNOLOGY© 2012 James O’Kon. Published by New Page Books a division of Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. 800?227?3371. Vse pravice pridržane.


Maya Empire for Kids Inventions& Achievements

The ancient Maya built their civilization using ideas they learned from the Olmec, an earlier tribe. The Olmec society was built on agriculture. They established farming villages. They were the first people to built roads through the jungle, roads which were used by them as trade routes. These trade routes stretched for hundreds of miles.

By 1400 BCE, the Olmec had a capital city with palaces and temples. They were the first people in the Americas to build huge religious centers in their towns and cities.

As the Maya slowly took over the region from the Olmec, the Maya built on the many clever ideas of these earlier people. For example, the Olmec created a solar calendar. The Maya, using their knowledge of astronomy, and building on the Olmec solar calendar, created the most accurate calendar in the ancient world. The Maya also created inventions of their own, inventions like the vast underground reservoirs that held fresh water safely in times of drought.

Both the Olmec and the Maya invented many things, but they never used the wheel, and they never made metal weapons or tools.

Here are just a few of the many inventions and achievements of the Maya people. They were a very advanced civilization.


Renaissance science and technology

According to medieval scientists, matter was composed of four elements—earth, air, fire, and water—whose combinations and permutations made up the world of visible objects. The cosmos was a series of concentric spheres in motion, the farther ones carrying the stars around in their daily courses. At the centre was the globe of Earth, heavy and static. Motion was either perfectly circular, as in the heavens, or irregular and naturally downward, as on Earth. The Earth had three landmasses—Europe, Asia, and Africa—and was unknown and uninhabitable in its southern zones. Human beings, the object of all creation, were composed of four humours—black and yellow bile, blood, and phlegm—and the body’s health was determined by the relative proportions of each. The cosmos was alive with a universal consciousness with which people could interact in various ways, and the heavenly bodies were generally believed to influence human character and events, although theologians worried about free will.

These views were an amalgam of Classical and Christian thought and, from what can be inferred from written sources, shaped the way educated people experienced and interpreted phenomena. What people who did not read or write books understood about nature is more difficult to tell, except that belief in magic, good and evil spirits, witchcraft, and forecasting the future was universal. The church might prefer that Christians seek their well-being through faith, the sacraments, and the intercession of Mary and the saints, but distinctions between acceptable and unacceptable belief in hidden powers were difficult to make or to maintain. Most clergy shared the common beliefs in occult forces and lent their authority to them. The collaboration of formal doctrine and popular belief had some of its most terrible consequences during the Renaissance, such as pogroms against Jews and witch-hunts, in which the church provided the doctrines of Satanic conspiracy and the inquisitorial agents and popular prejudice supplied the victims, predominantly women and marginal people.

Among the formally educated, if not among the general population, traditional science was transformed by the new heliocentric, mechanistic, and mathematical conceptions of Copernicus, Harvey, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. Historians of science are increasingly reluctant to describe these changes as a revolution, since this implies too sudden and complete an overthrow of the earlier model. Aristotle’s authority gave way very slowly, and only the first of the great scientists mentioned above did his work in the period under consideration. Still, the Renaissance made some important contributions toward the process of paradigm shift, as the 20th-century historian of science Thomas Kuhn called major innovations in science. Humanist scholarship provided both originals and translations of ancient Greek scientific works—which enormously increased the fund of knowledge in physics, astronomy, medicine, botany, and other disciplines—and presented as well alternative theories to those of Ptolemy and Aristotle. Thus, the revival of ancient science brought heliocentric astronomy to the fore again after almost two millennia. Renaissance philosophers, most notably Jacopo Zabarella, analyzed and formulated the rules of the deductive and inductive methods by which scientists worked, while certain ancient philosophies enriched the ways in which scientists conceived of phenomena. Pythagoreanism, for example, conveyed a vision of a harmonious geometric universe that helped form the mind of Copernicus.

In mathematics the Renaissance made its greatest contribution to the rise of modern science. Humanists included arithmetic and geometry in the liberal arts curriculum, artists furthered the geometrization of space in their work on perspective, and Leonardo da Vinci perceived, however faintly, that the world was ruled by “number.” The interest in algebra in the Renaissance universities, according to the 20th-century historian of science George Alfred Leon Sarton, “was creating a kind of fever.” It produced some mathematical theorists of the first rank, including Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia and Girolamo Cardano. If they had done nothing else, Renaissance scholars would have made a great contribution to mathematics by translating and publishing, in 1544, some previously unknown works of Archimedes, perhaps the most important of the ancients in this field.

If the Renaissance role in the rise of modern science was more that of midwife than of parent, in the realm of technology the proper image is the Renaissance magus, manipulator of the hidden forces of nature. Working with medieval perceptions of natural processes, engineers and technicians of the 15th and 16th centuries achieved remarkable results and pushed the traditional cosmology to the limit of its explanatory powers. This may have had more to do with changing social needs than with changes in scientific theory. Warfare was one catalyst of practical change that stimulated new theoretical questions. With the spread of the use of artillery, for example, questions about the motion of bodies in space became more insistent, and mathematical calculation more critical. The manufacture of guns also stimulated metallurgy and fortification town planning and reforms in the standards of measurement were related to problems of geometry. The Renaissance preoccupation with alchemy, the parent of chemistry, was certainly stimulated by the shortage of precious metals, made more acute by the expansion of government and expenditures on war.

The most important technological advance of all, because it underlay progress in so many other fields, strictly speaking, had little to do with nature. This was the development of printing, with movable metal type, about the mid-15th century in Germany. Johannes Gutenberg is usually called its inventor, but in fact many people and many steps were involved. Block printing on wood came to the West from China between 1250 and 1350, papermaking came from China by way of the Arabs to 12th-century Spain, whereas the Flemish technique of oil painting was the origin of the new printers’ ink. Three men of Mainz—Gutenberg and his contemporaries Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer—seem to have taken the final steps, casting metal type and locking it into a wooden press. The invention spread like the wind, reaching Italy by 1467, Hungary and Poland in the 1470s, and Scandinavia by 1483. By 1500 the presses of Europe had produced some six million books. Without the printing press it is impossible to conceive that the Reformation would have ever been more than a monkish quarrel or that the rise of a new science, which was a cooperative effort of an international community, would have occurred at all. In short, the development of printing amounted to a communications revolution of the order of the invention of writing and, like that prehistoric discovery, it transformed the conditions of life. The communications revolution immeasurably enhanced human opportunities for enlightenment and pleasure on one hand and created previously undreamed-of possibilities for manipulation and control on the other. The consideration of such contradictory effects may guard us against a ready acceptance of triumphalist conceptions of the Renaissance or of historical change in general.


Maya civilization

The ancient Maya believed in recurring cycles of creation and destruction and thought in terms of eras lasting about 5,200 modern years. The current cycle is believed by the Maya to have begun in either 3114 B.C. or 3113 B.C. of our calendar, and is expected to end in either A.D. 2011 or 2012.

Maya cosmology is not easy to reconstruct from our current knowledge of their civilization. It seems apparent, however, that the Maya believed Earth to be flat and four-cornered. Each corner was located at a cardinal point and had a colour value: red for east, white for north, black for west, and yellow for south. At the centre was the colour green.

Some Maya also believed that the sky was multi-layered and that it was supported at the corners by four gods of immense physical strength called "Bacabs". Other Maya believed that the sky was supported by four trees of different colours and species, with the green ceiba, or silk-cotton tree, at the centre.

Earth in its flat form was thought by the Maya to be the back of a giant crocodile, resting in a pool of water lilies. The crocodile's counterpart in the sky was a double-headed serpent - a concept probably based on the fact that the Maya word for "sky" is similar to the word for "snake". In hieroglyphics, the body of the sky-serpent is marked not only with its own sign of crossed bands, but also those of the Sun, the Moon, Venus and other celestial bodies.


The image of the human face emerging from the jaws of the serpent is a recurrent theme in Maya art. In this case, however, the sculpture of the feathered serpent is a later (Toltec) addition to the Maya geometric mosaic design - part of an elaborate frieze on the West facade of the "Nunnery" at Uxmal.

Heaven was believed to have 13 layers, and each layer had its own god. Uppermost was the muan bird, a kind of screech-owl. The Underworld had nine layers, with nine corresponding Lords of the Night. The Underworld was a cold, unhappy place and was believed to be the destination of most Maya after death. Heavenly bodies such as the Sun, the Moon, and Venus, were also thought to pass through the Underworld after they disappeared below the horizon every evening.

Very little is known about the Maya pantheon. The Maya had a bewildering number of gods, with at least 166 named deities. This is partly because each of the gods had many aspects. Some had more than one sex others could be both young and old and every god representing a heavenly body had a different Underworld face, which appeared when the god "died" in the evening.

Glyph from Palenque representing a Maya deity

Some Maya sources also speak of a single supreme deity, called Itzamná, the inventor of writing, and patron of the arts and sciences. His wife was Ix Chel, the goddess of weaving, medicine and childbirth she was also the ancient goddess of the Moon.

The role of priests was closely connected to the calendar and astronomy. Priests controlled learning and ritual, and were in charge of calculating time, festivals, ceremonies, fateful days and seasons, divination, events, cures for diseases, writing and genealogies. The Maya clergy were not celibate, and sons often succeeded fathers.

All Maya ritual acts were dictated by the 260-day Sacred Round calendar, and all performances had symbolic meaning. Sexual abstinence was rigidly observed before and during such events, and self-mutilation was encouraged in order to furnish blood with which to anoint religious articles. The elite were obsessed with blood - both their own and that of their captives - and ritual bloodletting was a major part of any important calendar event. Bloodletting was also carried out to nourish and propitiate the gods, and when Maya civilization began to fall, rulers with large territories are recorded as having rushed from one city to the other, performing bloodletting rites in order to maintain their disintegrating kingdoms.

    For the Maya, blood sacrifice was necessary for the survival of both gods and people, sending human energy skyward and receiving divine power in return. A king used an obsidian knife or a stingray spine to cut his penis, allowing the blood to fall onto paper held in a bowl. Kings' wives also took part in this ritual by pulling a rope with thorns attached through their tongues. The blood-stained paper was burned, the rising smoke directly communicating with the Sky World.

Human sacrifice was perpetrated on prisoners, slaves, and particularly children, with orphans and illegitimate children specially purchased for the occasion. Before the Toltec era, however, animal sacrifice may have been far more common than human - turkeys, dogs, squirrels, quail and iguana being among the species considered suitable offerings to Maya gods.


The shaman is about to perform a cha-chac ceremony: a petition to the god, Chac, to send rain.

Priests were assisted in human sacrifices by four older men who were known as chacs, in honour of the Rain God, Chac. These men would hold the arms and legs of a sacrificial victim while the chest was opened up by another individual called a nacom. Also in attendance was the chilam, a shaman figure who received messages from the gods while in a trance, and whose prophecies were interpreted by the assembled priests.

    (left) Public performances of ritual dancing and dramas, in which kings and nobles were transformed into gods by entering a visionary trance, were another means of communication with the spirit world. Marked by singing, the playing of musical instruments, and the shouts and jeers of thousands who came to witness the event, these rituals reaffirmed the king's power to act as a vessel in bringing supernatural powers into his domain for the benefit of his people.
    (prav) This tiny figurine shows a ball player. The ball game is symbolic of the life-and-death battle that took place during the third creation. The floor of the court represented the earth's platform, which separates the human world from the Underworld. It was the gods who determined the winners of the ball game, just as they decided who would be victorious at war. (Photo courtesy of the Instituto Nacional de Antropologiá e Historia)

The Maya believed that when people died, they entered the Underworld through a cave or a cenote. When kings died, they followed the path linked to the cosmic movement of the sun and fell into the Underworld but, because they possessed supernatural powers, they were reborn into the Sky World and became gods. Death from natural causes was universally dreaded among the Maya, particularly because the dead did not automatically go to paradise. Ordinary people were buried beneath the floors of their houses, their mouths filled with food and a jade bead, accompanied by religious articles and objects they had used when alive. The graves of priests contained books.

Great nobles were cremated - a practice of Mexican origin - and funerary temples were placed above their urns. In earlier days, nobles had been buried in sepulchres beneath mausoleums. Some Maya even mummified the heads of dead lords. These were then kept in family oratories and "fed" at regular intervals.

Following the Spanish conquest, there was a great deal of overlap between Maya and Catholic belief systems. Some archaeologists have suggested that the systems were similar in many respects: both burned incense during rituals both worshipped images both had priests both conducted elaborate pilgrimages based on a ritual calendar.


Two ceramic censers, used for burning incense at Maya religious ceremonies. That on the left represents the god Chac, holding a human heart in his left hand and a drinking cup in his right. (Photos courtesy of the Instituto Nacional de Antropologiá e Historia)

Most Maya today observe a religion composed of ancient Maya ideas, animism and Catholicism. Some Maya still believe, for example, that their village is the ceremonial centre of a world supported at its four corners by gods. Ko eden od teh bogov prenese svoje breme, menijo, da povzroči potres. The sky above them is the domain of the Sun, the Moon and the stars however, the Sun is clearly associated with God the Father or Jesus Christ. The Moon is associated with the Virgin Mary.

Many Maya are convinced that the mountains which surround them are analogous to the ancient temple-pyramids. Mountains and hills are also thought to be the homes of ancestral deities: elderly father and mother figures who are honoured in the home with prayers and offerings of incense, black chickens, candles and liquor. In many Maya villages, traditional shamans continue to pray for the souls of the sick at mountain shrines. The Maya also believe in an Earth Lord - a fat, greedy half-breed who lives in caves and cenotes, controls all waterholes, and produces lightning and rain.

There is also a supernatural belief in the spirits of the forest. Some villages today have four pairs of crosses and four jaguar spirits or balam at the village's four entrances, in order to keep evil away. In agricultural rites, deities of the forest are still invoked, and it is still believed that evil winds loose in the world cause disease and sickness.

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