ARCHaEOLOGY ROCKS ADVENTURE
Now that we are back in Houston, we have better computer access AND MORE COOL PICTURES available. We haven't been able to resist adding to our previous entries and creating some new ones. So if you go back, you might find some new facts and images. We have also added some questions you can answer by posting comments.
If you are joining us for the first time, you can follow our Fellowship journey in order by starting at the bottom.
Once again, a great big THANK YOU to FUND FOR TEACHERS for supporting us with a fellowship grant!
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First picture = Machupicchu
Second picture = Tulum
Third picture = Chichen Itza (click on the picture to get the full view)
Chichen Itza and its Temple of Kulkucan (El Castillo) may be one of the best preserved and well-known Mayan sites in the Yucatan region of Mexico. It is designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is quite large - about two and a half square miles. It contains a religious section and a scientific section, including an observatory. Astronomy was very important to the Mayas for understanding their world, including the seasons for planting and harvest.
The Temple of Kulkucan dominates the site. It is 80 feet high with 91 steps on each side. Four sides times 91 steps equals 364 steps. Add one more for the top platform and it equals 365. What else equals 365?
Right -- there are 365 days in a year. They also designed the temple so that on the equinox (when day and night are equal) the sun hitting it would appear to be a serpent going down the corner ending at a sculpture of a serpent head at the base. Very cool -- and a great example the influence of astronomy on their culture and architecture! The temple is not solid. Inside is a second smaller temple of similar design.
Why do you think they built temples so tall? Share your ideas in the comments.
Chichen Itza also has one of the largest examples of a Mayan ball court. This game was played on ceremonial occasions. Teams competed using a large (4 pound) solid rubber ball like the one Mrs. Clark is holding in the photo below. They had to put it through a stone hoop high on the side wall of the court using only the body above the knees (no hands or feet.) Players stayed on the ground and the captain played on a higher platform. The game ended when the ball went through the hoop. At the end unfortunately, someone was sacrificed. There is some debate whether it was the winning captain, the loser, or someone else.
After our morning in Tulum, we headed inland to the Coba archaeological site. It dates to the Maya Classic Period (300 to 900 A.D.)
The ruins are spread over such a large area that we rode bicycles to get from one area to the next! The temple Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula can be found here. It is 140 feet tall. Ms. Sager climbed up to the top; she said the steps were REALLY steep, especially coming down. Was she glad to reach the ground again!
Coba has a Mayan ball court, but it is much smaller than the one in Chichen Itza. The sides were decorated with carvings and glyphs (pictoral letter/symbols.) Read about the game in ththe Chichen Itza section of this blog.
Coba was connected to other Maya cities by a system of roads called sacbe'ob. Parts of them remain today.
Our guide pointed out that the ground in the Yucatan is generally flat. So if you see a small rocky hill, it is most likely the un-restored remains of a Maya structure. Can you find the example below?
The use of stone was generally reserved for public and ceremonial buildings. Private homes were made of poles and reeds with thatched roofs. We saw many examples of this building style stilll in use today.
Tulum was a Mayan trade center located on the Caribbean coast. It was still occupied when the Spaniards arrived in 1518, but It fell from prominence after the Spaniards forbid the Maya to sail.
The city was surrounded by a wall. Religious and civic leaders lived within the wall; ordinary people lived outside. The city had multiple temples, each with a stela stone inscribed with glyphs in front. The most famous temple is called El Castello (the castle), on a cliff overlooking the beautiful coast and beach.
The buildings here are contructed of limestone, a sedimentary rock which is less durable than the granite used at Machu Picchu. Instead of the tight, dry-stack joints of the Inka structures, the stones here were joined using a mortar made from ash, crushed limestone and tree resin. In addition the climate is much more rainy, so the stuctures have weathered greatly. Many sites we visited have had some restoration work done. But resoration is very expensive, so much work remains to be done.
Flashback to our Oceanography unit: Limestone forms from sediment that was once on ocean floors and contains many fossils. Do you recognize the fossil below?
As with the Quechua, who still live and thrive in Peru, we found that the Maya people still live throughout the Yucatan and Central America. Both societies preserve their heritage and language.
We have now entered a new and different world compared to Peru. Here in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico everything is hot, humid, lush, and full of igauanas!!! See how many iguanas you can count in all of our photos. We began with an orientation in the Maya museum and the adjacent archaeology site San Miguelito near our hotel.
We were not able to take pictures inside of the museum, but we do have photos of the San Miguelito site. In comparison, the Maya used much smaller stone blocks than the Quechua. The construction of the Maya temples and homes were of limestone rocks as opposed to the granite (and much larger) rocks in Peru. The Maya people were also experts in astronomy and used it in the design and construction of their cities and temples.
As we prepare to leave Peru, we want to say how grateful we are to our guide Hernan Aguilar. Hernan is Quechuan and a native of Cusco. He has a college degree in tourism and speaks Quechua, Spanish, and English fluently. Without his guidance and instruction we would not have learned nearly as much. He has also helped us to understand the current Quechua culture and how it relates to the past.
Muchas gracias Hernan!!!!
We have traveled so far and learned so much about the sites and people. However, in all of our adventures we had yet to see any artifacts the people had made and used in their time. Of course artifacts have been removed from sites for study and safety. So, when we returned to Lima we ventured out to Museo Largo. There we found what we were looking for, and we delighted in viewing and learning about how the Quechua and other people in the region lived. Though the Inkas were renowned for their gold, little remains. Most was taken by the Spanish conquistadors.
Enjoy the pictures from the museum...
Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire. Today about 450,000 people live here, many of whom are Quechuan. Because of the high elevation -- about 12,000 feet -- we had to take it easy. There is much less oxygen in the air than we are used to. The hotel even has oxygen tanks in the lobby for people who feel ill from altitude sickness.
We were fortunate to arrive just before the winter solstice. Yes, I said WINTER. Remember Peru is below the equator. Everyone was preparing for a solstice celebration. Children of all ages were practicing dances with traditional costumes and music for a competition. So colorful and exciting to experience! It is wonderful how they preserve their cultural heritage.
We rode horses to a site called the Temple of the Moon. We also visited a site called Saqsaywaman which included the Temple of the Sun. It took 20 thousand men and 70 years to build. One stone weighs more than 100 tons. For comparison, a school bus weighs about three tons.
The first three pictures are of the Temple of the Moon. We are seated on the throne that the priests used to observe the heavens. The next three pictures are of Saqsaywaman. And the the last three are of the adorable children dancing in the festival.
-We arrived by train in Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu, on Wednesday afternoon. We were scheduled to visit Machu Picchu on Thursday morning. But we just could not wait to see the ruins, so we bought a ticket to go up see it right away. Oh my what a site to see!!!!! (Pun intended :))) ) Words cannot express how amazing this place is. But we are going to try........
Mahcu Picchu is in a much more dramatic place than we have visited thus far. It is high in the steep mountains with lush vegetation due to humidity from the nearby Amazon basin. This site is very well-preserved because the Quechua hid it from the Spanish to keep it from being destroyed. Thus, it remained relatively unknown to the outside world until 1910 when rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, who was lead there by a ten-year old boy. Bingham then made the existence of Machu Picchu well-known through hundreds of pictures and several archaeological expeditions.
It is a multifunctional city that was mainly used as a retreat for astronomers and a administrative center. About 500 - 800 people lived there at any one time. Astronomers were important in the local culture. They used the stars and the movement of the sun to govern planting, harvests, and even locations of cities.
We spent hours exploring and learning about the different buildings and their functions. Yes, there were lots of steps! Too many to count!! Oh, and llamas were grazing in the open areas. They walked right by us on the path. Can you spot the chinchilla on the steps in one photo?
The top center photo is the Temple of the Sun. The windows are oriented to capture the sun at specific times. Do you see the two bumps in the wall to the right of the window bottom? Archaeologists believe the window was originally above them and had to be relocated to the left. Oops!
Notice the differences in the stonework of the temple and the wall below it? Think about why they are different and post your ideas.
See the buildings half way up the side of the mountain? Those are warehouses to store food in a naturally cool, dry place. This is another amazing example of how the people took advantage of their surroundings to thrive.
Now.....silly Ms. Clark hiked all the way up there!!!!! Ms. Sager said, "Stairs! Not today...." So she explored the town below.
Salt is an essential mineral for life. These salt pans date to Pre-Inka times. A spring dissolves salt from underground deposits and carries it to the surface. Locals terraced the hillside to catch the salt water in over 3,000 shallow pools. When the water evaporated they collected the salt -- and still do today. Each family has about 10 p0ols.
And.......we tasted the water. Yummy!! Yes, it was salty!
Moray could be considered an ancient agriculture research station. The temperature varies 15 degrees from the top to the bottom of the terraces. They divided it into sections and planted different plants in each section at all levels. They could then see what grew best at each level and decide what to plant on other terraces.
Notice the zig-zag pattern in the picture on the right. These are "floating stairs" built into the wall.
What a mouthful!! It is pronounced O-yan-tay-tam-bo.
The Quechua people used this as a fortresses, residential, and ceremonial center. It includes great examples of stone construction including use of huge blocks of granite. By "huge" we mean that the rock Ms. Sager and Tigger are in front of is twice as tall as Ms. Sager. The granite blocks were transported from over 6 kilometers away. They were expertly crafted and fitted so tightly together that not even a piece of paper will go through it. The surfaces of the walls were originally covered in gold.
Getting to the top of this fortress was quite a climb - 266 steps!!!!!! The steps are often more than a foot high. This is equivalent to a 22 story building.
The town below has been continuously occupied since the 1200's AD. It is currently a thriving market place and the starting point for those hiking the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu.
Hello everyone I am so sorry that we have not been able to blog. The wifi at our hotels would not support our program. We have so much to tell you that this will not fit all in one post. Where are we now? Where have we been?
Well right now we are in Cusco again and will be heading back to Lima tomorrow. As for where we have been......We met up with our fabulous tour guide in Lima and we traveled by plane to Cusco, which has an altitude of almost 11,000 feet. See the map of our destinations below.
We began our journey through the Sacred Valley on an overlook above Cusco. The statue of Jesus was a gift from the Muslim people. Enjoy the pictures from the overlook. Oh look Tigger made an appearance.
Our tour company, G Adventures, believes in supporting local communities. Therefore, our adventure in the Sacred Valley continued with a visit to Communidad Ccaccaccollo, an amazing women's weaving cooperative. The women are Quechua (sounds like Ket-chu-wa), the indigenous people of Peru. They raise llamas and alpaca to make yarn for weaving and knitting. All their dyes are made from plants -- and BUGS!!
Now for the kiddos who wrote questions: We did not do any basket weaving. The weaving was all done from llama and alpaca yarn. Oh, the alpaca and llama are sooooo cute!!! The women were incredibly skilled in how they knitted, sewed, and used a loom to create the beautiful clothing!
The people often called Inca were actually the Quechuan people. The Inca were their leaders. The local people are descendants of the ancient Quechuan people.
Due to lack of flat land in the mountains, the Quechua used terracing to farm. Our first archaeological site visit was to Pisac. An excellent example of terrace farming. The builders of the terraces used the natural landscape to their advantage to water their crops and control erosion.
Notice how the walls are inclined for strength. Mrs. Clark is standing next to a wall to show how it leans.
Indigenous people need to make use of available materials. Most of the local construction today uses Adobe bricks. They mix clay and straw, put it in molds, and let the bricks dry in the sun. A house uses about 2000 bricks and the community builds each house together.
They also use clay for pottery containers to cook and store food. They decorate the pottery with traditional designs.
Today we ventured out and toured Lima. Here are some fun facts from our excursion:
Rookiedoodle it's picture time!
These are pictures from Plaza de Lima. The first picture is the oldest hotel in Lima. Take note of the archetechture of the buildings. The detail and attention to detail is amazing! Due to earthquakes, Lima does not have a great deal of these historical buildings.
These pictures are of the Cathedral in Lima. Again the archetechture is just amazing! They still hold Mass there on Sunday's. We have soooo many more pictures to share! We visited several more locations after this and ended our tour at the church of St. Francis of Asisi. (My favorite Saint!)
We are now settled into our hotel in Lima, Peru. It is 1:38 am on June 12th here which is the same as Houston. Peru does not do daylight savings time and is surprisingly farther east than Houston. We are at sea level but Lima ranges to about 5,080 feet. I took pictures of the display on our airplane seat. (I could not resist) It was so neat how it showed exactly where our airplane was on the map! It looks like an Indiana Jones movie to me. If you are able to zoom in on the pictures than you can see our altitude, air speed, how many miles we had traveled, etc... That was cool!
First picture: Libby and I at the airport in Houston before we boarded the plane. We are holding up my Katy Tiger, Tigger (who has "stars" on his bandana for my Wolfe kiddos). Tigger will be showing up in all sorts of pictures. "Oh the wonderful thing about Tiggers is Tiggers are wonderful things....fun fun fun!!!"
Second picture: "We're leaving on a jet plane...." Are you guys singing all of these songs yet? :)))))
The rest of the pictures are of the display on our airplane seat. Check out where we are in the world. Geography......yes there will be a quiz over this. :)
And then Tigger settling in for the evening.....or should I say early morning?
Welcome to our adventure! we, rose sager & Libby Kaul clark, Teach Gifted & Talented students in Katy ISD. To Prepare for our archaeology unit we will explore Inca & Maya ruins in Peru and THE YUCATAN this summer. Thanks Fund for Teachers!
And so the adventure begins........well sort of......we haven't left for Peru/Cancun yet but we have already begun our research. On Memorial Day weekend Libby Clark and I ventured to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to explore The Halls of the Americas. We explored the Inca and Maya exhibits, as well as the Egyption and Native American exhibits. The greatest part about this trip to the museum was that Libby has volunteered there for years and was our own personal tour guide! Libby is a wealth of information on the different exhibits. What a wonderful start to our adventure!