Topic: Maya

A vector image of Chontalpa Town

The Chontal Maya or Putun Maya

The presence of crescent shaped temple mounds in the Florida Peninsula strongly suggests cultural contacts with Maya ethnic groups, who worshiped the goddess, Ixchel. Very few Florida archaeologists have been willing to suggest publicly that Florida, Mesoamerica and South America had direct cultural contacts. Those who did, were all ostracized by their peers. However, the linguistic and architectural evidence is overwhelming for contacts between illiterate Maya merchants and the indigenous peoples in Georgia – which is north of Florida.

Ortona Sceptor Pond

Maya Cultural Traditions at the Ortona Archaeological Zone

One of the several arguments that Southeastern archaeologists have used to dismiss a direct cultural connection between the Southeastern United States and Mesoamerica is that architecture of the respective regions was different. The architecture of the largest and most sophisticated Maya cities WAS more sophisticated and larger scaled than in towns in the Southeast, but the same architectural elements could be found in both regions. The Mesoamerican pyramids were really earthen mounds veneered with stone in some civilizations, left as clay stuccoed mounds in others.


Opechancanough and Don Luis

Jamestown was founded in 1607 on land recently conquered by the Powhatan Confederacy. Movies about Pocahontas have given the impression that the “Powhatan Indians” were concentrated on the Chesapeake Bay.  They were not. The villages on the coastline of the Chesapeake were the vassals of the Pamunkey Indians, who forged the confederacy. 1Egloff, Keith and Deborah Woodward, First People: The Early Indians of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1992. The capital of the confederacy, Werowocomoco, was originally on the north side of the York River, not near Jamestown. Note that the town’s name ends with “moko” which is very

Mexican Native Americans

As mentioned, three major centers of advanced culture blossomed around 900 AD and quickly disappeared around 1150 AD.  They were the Toltec capital of Tula, the trade megapolis on the Ocmulgee River in central Georgia, and the cluster of towns connected by canals and raised bed roads around Lake Okeechobee.  The causes of their contemporary rise and fall have not been studied by archaeologists and geologists.  In fact, very few of these scientists seemed to be aware of the coincidence. Etula in northwest Georgia and Ichese in central Georgia continued to prosper for 50 years after the abandonment of the


The Toltecs are associated with a single city, about 100 miles north of Mexico City. It is known today by the Totonac word for town, Tula.  However, that was also the probable name of Teotihuacan.  The city probably had another name.  The problem is now, anthropologists are not even sure what ethnic group lived there.  The city was contemporary with the Totonac and Huastec civilizations, but its architecture bears no resemblance to either.  What the architecture of Tula No. 2 does resemble is the Native American city in southern Illinois now called Cahokia.  Tula’s pyramids are earth and rubble veneered

Aerial View of El Tajin

Totonac Civilization

Shortly after the abandonment of Teotihuacan, cities began developing in northern Vera Cruz. The location of Teotihuacan had become quite arid as today, while Vera Cruz benefited from have a lower altitude and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. The descendants of the builders of these cities called themselves the Totonacs and they claim to have also once been the elite of Teotihuacan. The architecture of these cities, the best known being El Tajin and Cempoala, shared some decorative details with Teotihuacan, but architectural forms and city plans were quite different.  The Totonacs learned how to make pozzolanic concrete.  This

Late Classic Maya Heartland

The populations of Maya cities and countryside exploded after the mid-Sixth century hiatus. Several cities reached over 100,000 people. According to NASA archaeologist Tom Sever, the Mayan civilization in Mesoamerica was one of the densest populations in human history. At its zenith around 800 AD, the total population was probably in the range of 22 million.  Prior to the analysis by NASA most archaeologists assumed that the total population was in the range of 10 million. Slavery: Paralleling the population growth was general affluence, which enabled the Maya elite to import and export commodities and artistic creations to and from


Tabasco and Chiapas

The southern end of Vera Cruz and all of Tabasco in Mexico are not significantly different in appearance than southeastern Georgia.  Most of the region is level and humid, with many swamps and natural lakes. The coast of Tabasco is lined with tidal marshes almost identical to those of the coast of Georgia.  Although most of the indigenous inhabitants of Tabasco are called Mayas, most are descended from ethnic groups that were not true Mayas, but absorbed varying degrees of Maya culture.  One group, the Tamauli were originally refugees from Tamaulipas State in the northeastern corner of Mexico. This is


I knew so little back then. I had only the slightest grasp of my Creek Indian heritage.  I couldn’t even begin to answer Dr. Piña-Chan’s questions.  I did tell him that we had a lot of gold in the Georgia Mountains, but our archaeologists said that the Indians didn’t know anything about it.  Even then, however, I agreed with Dr. Piña-Chan. Why would our Indians be so skilled with working copper, which is also abundant in some parts of the mountains, but not work gold? Well, anthropologists knew so little back then, too.  They were just beginning to translate Maya

Mayan and Creek Similarities

Many, many suns ago, I was awarded a fellowship by Georgia Tech to spend a summer studying the indigenous architecture and town planning of Mesoamerica. The grant involved visiting all of the major archaeological sites in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. In addition, I was to photograph at least 2500 professional quality color slides for the Georgia Tech library.  The education I received seemed only a little relevant to an architectural career in the United States, but it would make interesting conversation for dates and parties.  Besides . . . Relaciones Exteriores (their State Department) let me ship home 125 kg