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Term Paper - Term Paper Critique of Popular Literature on...

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Term Paper Critique of Popular Literature on Ancient Latin Americans Maya: How a Great Culture Rose and Fell. National Geographic Magazine, August 2007. Name: Jean-Sebastien Pourcelot Date of submission: Tuesday April 1 st 2008 Art History 261
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If the many aspects of the Maya mentioned in this article could be described in one word, it would probably be “primitive”. National Geographic characterizes the Maya as a mysterious, ritualistic, unorganized, savage and war-loving civilization, which drove itself into complete “extinction”. The mystery behind the Maya civilization is probably the most recurrent one in this article, were they are described it as “an enigma”, where they often refer to their hieroglyphs as “beautiful but undeciphered scripts” that have recently been “cracked more fully” to reveal a more “darker picture…of warring dynasties, court rivalries, and palaces put to the torch” ( National Geographic : 74, 76. 81). Furthermore, their beliefs and knowledge in astrology are mainly ritualized and essentially simplified, a very complex aspect of the Maya. This knowledge in astrology was described as “…[a] mystical connection between earth and sky [used for] scheduling and numerous events such as battles and sacrifices around the journeys of Venus and perhaps Jupiter” ( National Geographic : 90). Probably, the aspect in Mayan society which is mostly discussed in this article is warfare along with savagery. Even though warfare, like in many other civilizations, is inevitable where there is power, National Geographic mainly attributes warfare as one of the essentials in Maya civilization from which some city-states only manage to survive by conquering other city-states, and how this ultimately led to the Maya collapse. Dos Pilas, for example, is described as a “predator state”, where war was “not only a ritual to glorify kings and appease gods. War was what Dos Pilas did to survive.” ( National Geographic : 106). Furthermore, warfare and savagery is taken to the level where it seems to be the key to unlocking the mystery behind the Classic Maya Collapse: Defeats spurred desperate citizens to rip apart their ceremonial buildings, using the stones and fill to build redoubts in hopes of starving off future invaders. Cities
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no longer rebuilt and rebounded. They simply ceased to exist. ( National Geographic : 108) Arguably, warfare could have been one of the reasons for which the Classic Maya collapsed, but certainly not the sole cause which lead to this collapse; however, the article does not give that impression. Notably, this article appears to leave out many aspects of the Maya which are proof of their sophistication in many ways. Some of these aspects are completely left out, and they include: the Maya’s knowledge in architecture, agriculture and their religious beliefs such as the creation (Popol Vuh essentially). Meanwhile, there are aspects of which the article only scratches the surface, which include: their immense
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Term Paper - Term Paper Critique of Popular Literature on...

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