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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Jesse S. Cook III [mailto:jesse_cook@JUNO.COM] Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 2:52 PM To: ANTHRO-L@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU Subject: [ANTHRO-L] Fw:
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 1, 2002
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jesse S. Cook III [mailto:jesse_cook@...]
      Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 2:52 PM
      To: ANTHRO-L@...
      Subject: [ANTHRO-L] Fw: PaleoNews


      Source: Arizona State University

      Date: 10/29/2002

      Ceremonial Burial At Moon Pyramid Shows Teotihuacan Rulers Had Mayan
      Connection

      Were the rulers of the great ancient Mesoamerican civilizations related?
      Of these, Teotihuacan, the 2,000-year-old, metropolis that was the first
      great city of the Western Hemisphere, has long been a mystery. Located 25
      miles northeast of the current Mexico City, this ancient civilization
      left
      behind the ruins of a master-planned city grid with immense pyramids
      covering eight square miles and having a unique culture. But even the
      Aztecs, who gave the city its present name, did not know who built it.
      They
      called the monumental ruins "the City of the Gods."

      Though Teotihuacan at its height was roughly contemporary with the early
      stages of the Mayan cities located far to the south in the jungles of
      southern Mexico and Guatemala, archaeologists have long noted pronounced
      differences between the cultures and only minor evidence of interaction.
      Now, startling new evidence from an excavation still in process at
      Teotihuacan's Pyramid of the Moon is revealing a Mayan link with the
      great
      city's aristocracy - and may soon be sending reverberations through
      foundations of Mesoamerican archaeology.

      The excavation, directed by Saburo Sugiyama, professor of archaeology at
      Aichi Prefectural University in Japan and research professor at Arizona
      State University, and Ruben Cabrera of Mexico's National Institute of
      Anthropology and History, has found a distinctive burial in the pyramid,
      one
      of Teotihuacan's oldest and largest structures, containing three
      ceremonially positioned bodies, other ceremonial items, and jade
      artifacts
      that appear to be of Mayan origin.

      "The jade objects are especially interesting," said Sugiyama, a leading
      authority on Teotihuacan, who has been excavating sites in various parts
      of
      the city for decades. "We believe that some of them came from Guatemala.

      "Some jade objects were carved in Maya style and we know that they were
      often used as symbol of rulers or royal family members in Maya societies.
      We
      have to study the objects and bones further, but the offerings strongly
      suggest a direct relation between the Teotihuacan ruling group and the
      Maya
      royal families."

      Among the items is a spectacular jade statuette of a person with
      relatively
      realistic features and big eyes. Jade is a rare and precious material in
      Central America. The nearest and most likely source of the stone is
      located
      in the Motagua Valley in Guatemala, which seems to further confirm the
      objects' Mayan origins.

      The burial site is located at the top of the fifth of the pyramid's seven
      layered stages, and appears to have been created as an offering during
      the
      construction of the sixth stage, which is dated circa 350 A.D., near the
      time of Teotihacan's greatest power and prosperity.

      According to Sugiyama, the bodies found in this tomb offer further
      evidence
      that the burial is a unique and important find. Since 1998, Sugiyama and
      his
      team have excavated several other human burials in the Pyramid of the
      Moon
      containing symbolically important animals (such as pumas, coyotes, eagles
      and serpents), large shells, weapon points and artwork, but the human
      remains in the earlier discoveries all appeared to be bound captives -
      offerings dedicating stages of the pyramid. The current discovery is
      somewhat similar in its ceremonial and symbolic objects, but differs
      significantly in the positioning of the human remains.

      "Unlike the earlier burials we've discovered in the Pyramid of the Moon,
      these three bodies didn't have their hands tied," Sugiyama noted. "In
      addition, they were found in a cross-legged seated position, which is
      very
      rarely, if ever, found in burials here. The position, however, can be
      seen in images in murals, sculpture or figurines as priests, gods, or
      warriors in Teotihuacan and other related sites."

      Similar body positioning has also been found in burials at Kaminaljuyu, a
      Mayan site in the Guatemalan highlands. Archaeologists have, in fact,
      found
      indications of noble Teotihuacan visitors and of their possible influence
      on
      government in the art and records of a number of Mayan cities, including
      Tikal and Copan. Some evidence has also been found for the presence of
      Mayan
      visitors in the common residential and commercial districts of
      Teotihuacan.

      "The archaeological evidence appears to point towards Teotihuacanos
      intervening in Mayan politics, " said ASU archaeologist George Cowgill,
      an
      authority on Teotihuacan. "But many people still dispute that there was
      really any significant influence because they were two distinctly
      different
      cultures.

      "Dr. Sugiyama's discovery makes it all more complicated by adding some
      big
      new pieces to the puzzle. It certainly makes it harder to see the Mayans
      as
      not much influenced by Teotihuacan."

      "I think this is significant because for the first time we have data
      indicating a Mayan ruling class connection at Teotihuacan, from the heart
      of
      one of the city's major monuments," said Sugiyama. "More importantly,
      these new data tell us about the government Teotihuacan itself, which is
      one of the biggest questions," he said. "These three people were
      evidently from the highest socio-political status group."

      The three bodies are all male, and are estimated to be approximately 50
      years of age at burial. Sugiyama also notes that the bodies were lavishly
      adorned. "They have the richest ornaments ever found in a burial at
      Teotihuacan after more than a century of research," Sugiyama said.

      "The quality of the offerings is just exceptional. If we had found only
      one
      of these bodies, we would suspect that he had been a ruler or at least a
      royal family member, but we discovered three. This leaves us with
      critical
      questions of identification that still need to be resolved," he said.
      "And
      there is still a possibility that we may find another grave below the
      current burial complex and/or at other places inside the Moon Pyramid."

      The excavation of the Pyramid of the Moon ended in mid-October because of
      Sugiyama's teaching commitments in Japan. Sugiyama plans to continue with
      the digging next August.

      Sugiyama and Cabrera's research is sponsored by the Japanese Society for
      the
      Promotion of Science, the National Science Foundation, the National
      Geographic Society, Arizona State University, and Mexico's National
      Institute of Anthropology and History.

      Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued for
      journalists
      and other members of the public. If you wish to quote any part of this
      story, please credit Arizona State University as the original source. You
      may also wish to include the following link in any citation:

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021029070114.htm

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    • Popplestone, Ann
      ... From: Jesse S. Cook III [mailto:jesse_cook@JUNO.COM] Sent: Sunday, November 03, 2002 11:58 AM To: ANTHRO-L@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU Subject: [ANTHRO-L] Fw:
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 4, 2002
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Jesse S. Cook III [mailto:jesse_cook@...]
        Sent: Sunday, November 03, 2002 11:58 AM
        To: ANTHRO-L@...
        Subject: [ANTHRO-L] Fw: PaleoNews


        Source: Ohio State University
        Date: 11/1/2002

        Health Of American Indians On Decline Before Columbus Arrived In New
        World

        COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The health of indigenous people in the Western
        Hemisphere
        was on a downward trajectory long before Columbus set foot in the
        Americas,
        researchers say. The rise of agriculture is partly to blame, said Richard
        Steckel, a professor of economics and anthropology at Ohio State
        University. The
        demands of tending domestic crops encouraged people to settle in larger
        communities, where disease was more easily spread.

        The rise of towns and cities during industrialization took a serious toll
        on
        health, but new evidence establishes a very long trail of poor health
        that
        followed the collective pre-Columbian efforts in creating modern
        civilization, Steckel said. He co-edited a book that looks at health
        trends
        in the Western Hemisphere throughout the last seven millennia.

        According to some archeologists, the urban revolution began long before
        Europeans settled the Americas. Sophisticated cities flourished and
        expanded
        throughout North and South America once people mastered agriculture.
        Researchers believe that indigenous people began domesticating crops more
        than 5,000 years ago. The current research suggests that the overall
        health of the average person declined with the development of
        agriculture, government and urbanization.

        We know that certain health problems increased thousands of years before
        Columbus set foot in the New World, Steckel said. We also know that
        complex
        indigenous cities were thriving by then, particularly in Central America.

        While the undisputed devastation of Indians in North and South America by
        New World immigrants has been the focus of historians who study the
        indigenous experience, patterns of health prior to the late 1400s have
        largely been ignored, Steckel said.

        He and his colleagues used a new tool called the health index to analyze
        more than 12,500 skeletons excavated from 65 sites in North and South
        America. The sites ranged in age from 5,000 BC to the late 19th century.
        The index helped researchers analyze skeletal remains and, in doing so,
        determine the extent of certain chronic health problems.

        Skeletons are warehouses of health history. They are the major source of
        information on the co-evolution of humans and disease, Steckel said.

        The researchers share their findings on the co-evolution of humans and
        disease in "The Backbone of History: Health and Nutrition in the Western
        Hemisphere," (Cambridge University Press, 2002). Steckel edited the book
        with Jerome Rose, a professor of anthropology at the University of
        Arkansas.
        The project was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Ohio
        State.

        The book includes chapters on the health of Euro- and Afro-Americans in
        North America and Indians throughout North, Central, and South America.
        The
        contributors gathered evidence on seven basic indicators of health used
        to
        assess chronic conditions that affected people living in the Western
        Hemisphere during the last 7,000 years. The health index gave researchers
        the basic tools to evaluate and compare the health of societies living in
        various ecological zones.

        The index includes seven indicators of skeletal health measured at 65
        locations in the Western Hemisphere: degenerative joint disease, trauma,
        dental health, stature, anemia, enamel hypoplasias, and skeletal
        infection.
        Each indicator was scored from zero to 100. Zero meant that the
        individual
        had had the worst possible case of the indicator, [and] 100 meant that
        the
        skeleton had no sign of the affliction.

        The healthiest group, according to the index, lived along the coast of
        Brazil about 1,200 years ago. In fact, Indian groups were among the
        healthiest of all groups in the study. Indigenous sites occupied the top
        14
        spots of the health index, and 11 of these sites predate Columbus
        arrival.
        These sites ranged in age from 75 to 7,425 years old, and covered
        territory
        in North and South America. The groups ranged from coastal city dwellers
        to
        the Plains Indians of the American Midwest.

        But Indians also accounted for some of the most unhealthy groups,
        occupying
        eight of the nine least-healthy slots on the index. The Zuni of Hawikku,
        New
        Mexico, were ranked last. At least 400 years old, this site presumably
        met
        its demise before European settlers made contact. Six other indigenous
        sites
        in the least-healthy category were dated at least 500 years before
        Columbus
        arrived.

        The index also included European and African American groups. With a rank
        of
        28 out of 65, antebellum blacks buried at Philadelphias African Church in
        the 1800s were in the top half of the health index. This group had health
        superior to small-town, middle-class whites, Steckel said. It suggests
        that it was possible for a socially disadvantaged group to carve out a
        life with reasonably good health in an early 19th-century city, Steckel
        said.

        On the other hand, plantation slaves buried in a South Carolina site
        ranked
        third to last on the health index.

        While its not surprising that slaves ranked lowest among the
        African-American sites, it is remarkable that the slaves were so near the
        bottom in overall rankings, Steckel said. Their health was comparable to
        pre-Columbian Indian populations threatened with extinction.

        Many of the healthiest groups included in the index lived along the
        coast.
        Others lived in the interior of the United States, where they presumably
        hunted for and gathered food. The healthiest sites were typically the
        oldest
        sites, substantially predating Columbus arrival. But equestrian nomads of
        the 19th century were also among the healthiest groups in the study.

        People living in rural settlements [had] typically healthy skeletons.
        {Those] found in these areas had less evidence of any of the negative
        health indicators than did skeletons excavated from large settlements.

        [Whereas] living in small settlements seemed to decrease the development
        and
        spread of disease, congested living, laced with migration and trade,
        helped
        lead to a decline in health, Steckel said. Infections increased as people
        began congregating in cities, and the worldwide spread of disease had
        begun
        by the 1400s.

        The health index gives us one way to trace the emergence of modern
        diseases
        as well as a way to track the early impacts that globalization had on the
        spread of disease. Studying historical data can help researchers learn
        about the resilience of health in developing countries, as many modern
        health problems have roots reaching deep into the past.

        But the long-term evolution of health and disease is not simply a story
        that
        follows from the rise of settled agriculture and urbanization, Steckel
        said.
        There are other variables responsible for health, including climate,
        elevation, proximity to the coast and topography. The researchers plan to
        analyze future versions of the health index using such variables.

        The Western Hemisphere project has been a pilot for a project with global
        vision, Steckel said. We want to develop these tools and use them in
        archeological sites around the world.

        Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued for
        journalists
        and other members of the public. If you wish to quote any part of this
        story, please credit Ohio State University as the original source.

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