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Ma: Mayan Caves - Again

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  • JohnCarr
    Lalo writes- This morning, after a very pleasant hour reviewing all of our recent cave postings, I had my first opportunity to read Bruce Bower s very
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 1998
      Lalo writes-

      This morning, after a very pleasant hour reviewing all of our recent
      cave postings, I had my first opportunity to read Bruce Bower's very
      interesting SCIENCE NEWS article (Jan. 24, 1998). I am bewildered by
      two statements from that article.

      Of cave pilgrimages, he says,

      "Many modern Maya follow the same practice today. Hundreds of millions
      of people in Central America undertake pilgrimages each year, although
      few scientists have examined this phenomenon."

      Hundreds of millions? Even if this vast number is passionate hyperbole,
      may we hear more about the present day practice? Do people go to a
      favorite, single cave (as one might visit a specific cemetary or shrine)
      or are they making great treks - grand tours - from cave to cave (my
      idea of a pilgrimage)? When and how does this happen?

      I would also like further enlightenment on this paragraph:

      "Many traditional Maya researchers express skepticism about, or outright
      rejection of, Brady's theories. Vernon Scarborough, an anthropologist at
      the University of Cincinnati who investigates Classic-era water storage
      techniques, regards Maya caves with interest but sees no solid evidence
      that they held any specific relationship to ancient religious,
      political, or economic life."

      I'm lost. What is the argument? May we hear from Mr. Scarborough or
      some of the other "traditional researchers"?



      jc

      <johncarr@...>
    • JohnCarr
      writes- ... ... If Vernon Scarborough said what Ed says he said above, then we have another classic confrontation
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 1, 1998
        <Samuel.Y.Edgerton@...> writes-

        > Lalo wrote-
        >This morning, after a very pleasant hour reviewing all of our recent
        >cave postings, I had my first opportunity to read Bruce Bower's very
        >interesting SCIENCE NEWS article (Jan. 24, 1998). I am bewildered by
        >two statements from that article.

        <snip>

        >"Many traditional Maya researchers express skepticism about, or outright
        >rejection of, Brady's theories. Vernon Scarborough, an anthropologist at
        >the University of Cincinnati who investigates Classic-era water storage
        >techniques, regards Maya caves with interest but sees no solid evidence
        >that they held any specific relationship to ancient religious,
        >political, or economic life."

        If Vernon Scarborough said what Ed says he said above, then we have another
        classic confrontation between idealists and materialists. To claim that
        caves played no religious role in ancient Maya society, let alone in Maya
        society today, trivializes if not ignorantly overlooks vast amounts of
        supporting evidence; most obvious are the offerings, mural paintings,
        inscriptions, and petroglyphs found in caves that can only be religious in
        meaning: as at Loltun, Balankanche, Naj Tunich, and many, many more
        including just about every cenote in the Yucatan. And caves certainly do
        still attract thousands of Maya as well as other indigenous Indians
        pilgrims from all over Mexico today, to celebrate both Christian and
        pre-conquest rites, as at Utatlan in Guatemala (pre-conquest) and
        Esqipulas, Guatemala (Christian, sort of). While "hundreds of millions" may
        be a bit hyperbolic, I was once trapped in a huge crowd of Indians on their
        way to the great cave-pilgrimage site at Chalma, Mexico, and I must say
        that after hours of trying to maneuver our car through the crush, the
        numbers of pilgrims did seem almost that high! Maybe that happened to
        Bruce Bower too.

        Sam Edgerton
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