Does this sound like an Indiana Jones adventure or what!
Two archaeologists deep in the jungles of Guatemala are searching the lost empire of El Zotz, an ancient Maya city-state. First, they discover Diablo’s Pyramid, a 45-foot tall royal palace that is 1600 years old.
Then, they spot another building but it’s buried deep in the jungle. Two years later they have it uncovered (ok, that is not-so adventurous but realistic archaeological work), and find beyond the overgrowth some devilish faces, from the National Geographic article:
The sides of the temple are decorated with 5-foot-tall stucco masks showing the face of the sun god changing as he traverses the sky over the course of a day.
One mask is sharklike, likely a reference to the sun rising from the Caribbean in the east, Houston said.
The noonday sun is depicted as an ancient being with crossed eyes who drank blood, and a final series of masks resemble the local jaguars, which awake from their jungle slumbers at dusk.
The Mayans sure were fascinated with power, death, and the sun.
Here is a new exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art:
Children of the Plumed Serpent: the Legacy of Quetzalcoatl
You may remember the name Quetzalcoatl as the so-called white-bearded God in Atzec lore. Which Hernán Cortés was supposed to represent and then use to his advantage when he conquered the greatest empire of the Americas.
That understanding is in some dispute but what is not are the enemies of the Aztecs. The Nahua, Mixtec, and Zapotec kingdoms were resisting the Aztecs when the Spaniards arrived. They quickly allied with Spain and established a thriving culture, language, and trade that survives to this day.
These cultures have a strong history and a powerful modern presence in Mexico and the United States. This exhibit presents artifacts from their ancient and colonial history. A fascinating look at Native Americans who somewhat escaped the ravages of colonialism.
The exhibition examines the art and material objects of late pre-Columbian and early colonial societies across Mexico to explore Quetzalcoatl’s role as founder and benefactor of the Nahua-, Mixtec-, and Zapotec-dominated kingdoms of southern Mexico. These socially and culturally complex communities successfully resisted both Aztec and Spanish subjugation, flourishing during an era of unprecedented international entrepreneurship and cultural innovation. On view are painted manuscripts (codices), polychrome ceramics, textiles, and exquisite works of gold, turquoise, and shell that reflect the achievements of the Children of the Plumed Serpent.
A California dessert and pastry school, located in Irvine, has just broken the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Chocolate Sculpture:
To celebrate our 30th anniversary, Qzina Specialty Foods, has broken a Guinness World Record for building the largest chocolate sculpture. The sculpture models an ancient Mayan temple and weighs 18,239 pounds, far surpassing the previous record set in Italy in 2010 by more than 7,500 pounds.
Qzina chose the Mayan theme because of the crucial role the culture played in the origins of chocolate. The Mayans were one of the first civilizations to cultivate Cacao trees and discover the true potential of the cocoa bean. Realizing the delicious possibilities of this powerful discovery, the Mayans worshipped the Cacao tree and praised its beans as the food of the Gods.
Qzina’s Corporate Pastry Chef, Francois Mellet, was the lead architect on this massive project and MOF Stephane Treand (Meilleur Ouvrier de France or Best Craftsman in France) lent his artistic touch to the sculpture’s intricate design elements. Mellet, together with his team, spent more than 400 hours constructing this magnificent structure of solid chocolate that was created using an assortment of Qzina’s leading chocolate brands.
Extensive planning and research set the groundwork to accurately capture the details and intricacies of an authentic Mayan temple down to the exact number of steps and panels representing numbers significant to the Mayan calendar. Built proportionally to the ancient temple’s true size, the solid chocolate pyramid is six feet tall and its base measures 10 feet by 10 feet – exactly one-thirtieth the size. The sculpture’s base alone weighs more than 3,000 pounds.
The chocolate pyramid will be displayed at the Qzina Institute of Chocolate & Pastry, located in Irvine, California, and will be available to view beginning June 4, 2012 when the institute and product showroom is officially open to the public (Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.). Qzina plans to destroy the chocolate sculpture on December 21, 2012 when the Mayan calendar comes to an end. The method for destruction is yet to be determined.
Multitudinous stars but what is really awesome are the shots or Earth. The atmosphere glows faintly while the surface is lined with an array of lights, lightning storms, and mountains.
Makes me feel like we are an advanced civilization, even a planet in a Star Wars movie (that’s Coruscant for you geeks).
Timelapse videos depicting the stars from low earth orbit, as viewed from the International Space Station. Images edited using Adobe Lightroom with some cropping to make the stars the focal point of each shot, and with manipulation of the contrast to bring out the stars a bit more.
The video plays best if you let it load a bit first.