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Posts Tagged ‘mayan’

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Photo: Takeshi Inomata
Human activity at the Mayan city Moral Reforma in Mexico ended about 1,400 years ago. Recently, researchers figured out that
lidar maps revealing underground Mayan archaeological sites, though ordinarily costly, are free if you know where to look.

It often takes time, a creative thinker, and a hot tip to uncover the best way to access technology. In this example, an archaeologist learned that the expensive underground maps he needed for his research could be found free online.

Zach Zorich writes at the New York Times, “Until recently, archaeology was limited by what a researcher could see while standing on the ground. But light detection and ranging, or lidar, technology has transformed the field, providing a way to scan entire regions for archaeological sites.

“With an array of airborne lasers, researchers can peer down through dense forest canopies or pick out the shapes of ancient buildings to discover and map ancient sites across thousands of square miles. A process that once required decades-long mapping expeditions, and slogging through jungles with surveying equipment, can now be done in a matter of days from the relative comfort of an airplane.

“But lidar maps are expensive. Takeshi Inomata, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona, recently spent $62,000 on a map that covered 35 square miles, and even was deeply discounted. So he was thrilled last year when he made a major discovery using a lidar map he had found online, in the public domain, entirely for free.

“The map, published in 2011 by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, covered 4,440 square miles in the Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas. …

“Dr. Inomata learned about the map from Rodrigo Liendo, an archaeologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The resolution of the map was low. But the outlines of countless archaeological sites stood out to Dr. Inomata. So far, he has used it to identify the ruins of 27 previously unknown Maya ceremonial centers that contain a type of construction that archaeologists had never seen before. …

“His findings have not yet been peer-reviewed, but Dr. Inomata has presented his work at four conferences during the past year. ‘The stuff he is finding is crucial for our understanding of how Maya civilization developed,’ said Arlen Chase, an archaeologist at Pomona College, who did not contribute to Dr. Inomata’s work. …

“The 27 sites he identified on the map have a type of ceremonial construction that Dr. Inomata and his colleagues had never seen before — rectangular platforms that are low to the ground but extremely large, some as long as two-thirds of a mile.

“ ‘If you walk on it, you don’t realize it,’ Dr. Inomata said of the platforms. ‘It’s so big it just looks like a part of the natural landscape.’ The similarities between these sites and the early buildings they found at Ceibal led them to believe they both date to sometime between 1000 B.C. and 700 B.C. …

“While lidar technology is giving archaeologists new ways to analyze the ancient world, the change in perspective has been shocking and a little disorienting for some researchers. Marcello Canuto, director of the Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University, was the lead author of a lidar survey that covered 800 square miles of the Petén rainforest in Guatemala. He is also the director of an excavation at the Maya city of La Corona. Seeing the edges of the city as well as buildings between cities and the roads that connected them was shocking to him.

‘The word that all of us used when we started looking at the lidar was “humbling,” ‘ he said. ‘It humbled all of us in showing us what we had missed.’

“Dr. Inomata agreed. Even in areas where they were busy excavating, he said, ‘lidar was showing us things we didn’t notice.’ This included broad causeways and agricultural terraces, which are difficult to see in an excavation. …

“Viewing the archaeology of an entire region, in detail, will allow archaeologists to answer bigger-picture questions, such as the ones that Dr. Inomata has about the interactions the Maya had with the Olmec at the beginning of their civilization. …

“ ‘The future pattern,’ Dr. Inomata said, ‘will be that everything will be covered by lidar, like topographic maps today.’ ”

Lots more detail at the New York Times, here.

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Photo: Alison Wortman
Ingrid, a Mayan community health promoter in Guatemala, is delivering direct health services to another Mayan woman in the Mayan language.

US city hospitals have known for years that it’s important to provide health care to patients in their own language. That’s why hospital interpreter is a growing career option. But you can imagine how grateful a patient might be if the providers themselves spoke her language.

In remote parts of Guatemala, a socially conscious coffee company is supporting an initiative to do that.

As Alison Wortman wrote at the Dean’s Beans blog in May, “When I looked through all the colorful photos I took while on my most recent Dean’s Beans development trip to Guatemala, this one stuck out the most. …

“What we are witnessing here is no small feat. This is a picture (above) from a home-visit in a remote mountain village to check up on a new mom and her baby (the little guy is strapped to her back). What makes the visit so extraordinary is that Ingrid, a Mayan community health promoter, is delivering direct health services to another Mayan woman in their own Mayan language.

“This direct, language inclusive health service from the Mayan Health Alliance (known as Wuqu’kawoq) is the only health organization in Guatemala providing home-based health care to indigenous populations in their own Mayan languages. This women’s health program is one of many in their comprehensive health-care programming which includes primary and women’s health services, nutrition and early child development, treatment and support for chronic disease, medical case management services and clean water education.

“In addition to culturally inclusive services, [the] community outreach workers at Wuqu’kawoq have also become role models for the future generation of girls in a country where 70% of indigenous girls do not make it past 6th grade. …

“Dean’s Beans sent three social workers to Guatemala (Annette Cycon, Jean Marie Walker and myself) for 10 days to prep, introduce and facilitate trainings in Annette’s Group Peer Support Model (GPS). GPS is a powerful and effective group support model that focuses on social support groups to address isolation, mental health concerns, self-esteem building and women’s empowerment. …

“At the end of class the woman served lunch. They all ate half of their portions and wrapped the rest in a bowl covered in bright cloth to take home. Although at first we thought it was to share with their families, we learned later [that] it was to prove to their husbands and mother-in-laws that they had indeed gone to class. This was another example of the oppressive conditions many women face in a country where gender based violence are at epidemic levels.” More here.

That comment reminds me of certain Syrian refugee women I work with. The men are definitely controlling what they do. I think you have to be careful to teach without messing around with another woman’s culture unless you are sure that is what the woman wants. So hard to witness some things, though.

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I’ve followed countertenor Terry Barber’s Artists for a Cause for several years. He lines up musicians who, like him, believe in the importance of sometimes donating their talents to a worthy cause. I heard him perform in Rhode Island (check this 2011 post).

Lately, I stared wondering whether other sorts of artists and craftsmen were doing this sort of thing. So I Googled “crafts for a cause” and discovered that someone had used those very words to name a website:

“In 1975, Hetty Friedman first traveled to the Highlands of Guatemala to learn back strap weaving from a Mayan weaver. After that time, Guatemala entered a period of intense political unrest. Thirty two years later, Hetty was able to return. In partnership with Asociación Maya de Desarrollo, a Fair Trade Weaver’s Coop, she is designing unique woven products, training weavers and leading tours. Together they produce a line of hand dyed, hand woven items that are being marketed in the USA.”

Regarding her tours: “Adventurous travelers are provided with a unique exploration of the Guatemala Highland pueblos, Antigua, a Unesco World Heritage City, and visits to various artists and fair trade jewelry and weaving co-ops. Join Hetty on an intimate tour of Guatemala’s fabulous cultural heritage. Lots of guacamole gets eaten.

“Small group travel for women. Meet Mayan artisans, visit Antigua, a Unesco Heritage site, and travel on Lake Atitlan. Great food, wonderful hotels and good company.

“Call 617-512-5344 or email hetty.friedman@gmail.com for details. Contact us to get put on the list for 2018 travel.”

From the nonprofit that Hetty is supporting, “The objective of Asociación Maya de Desarrollo is not to just provide an income for families in post-conflict communities. Asociación Maya also aims to provide an opportunity for women harmed by the war to become leaders in the cooperative, their homes, their communities, and of the Mayan tradition.”

I am filled with admiration.

More at Hetty Friedman Designs, here.

Photo: Hetty Friedman Designs
Weaver Hetty Friedman says, “It all started at age 13 when I took a weaving class at summer camp. It was like a miracle to me.”

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