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Earth of fire

Actualité volcanique, Article de fond sur étude de volcan, tectonique, récits et photos de voyage

Publié par Bernard Duyck

Obsidian sources in Mesoamerica , although corresponding distribution with the areas of existence of volcanoes, are limited in number .

They remain confined to TMVB - the trans- Mexican volcanic Belt , with the major sites of Cerro de las Navajas , Otumba and Pachuca, and to Guatemalans sites, including El Chayal and Ixtepeque .

Mines are exploited intensively, or in the open, either by deep wells and underground galleries.

Different sources of obsidian in Mesoamerica ( white stars ) - Doc. English wikipedia

Different sources of obsidian in Mesoamerica ( white stars ) - Doc. English wikipedia

Obsidian is omnipresent in all archaeological sites , regardless of culture or time period ... it was a material of primary importance in these civilizations , in the absence of metal tools , related to the economy and life symbolic in some 3,000 years , and has played an important role in hunting and agriculture , and especially as a weapon and blade sacrifice.

 To the left, Aztec warriors with their Macuahuitl : sword - club for rituals fightings , equipped with obsidian blades - doc . Florentine Codex IX - to the right, Spear points obsidian found in an offering of the Mayan city of Palenque ( Museum of America , Madrid). - Click on the photos to enlarge. To the left, Aztec warriors with their Macuahuitl : sword - club for rituals fightings , equipped with obsidian blades - doc . Florentine Codex IX - to the right, Spear points obsidian found in an offering of the Mayan city of Palenque ( Museum of America , Madrid). - Click on the photos to enlarge.

To the left, Aztec warriors with their Macuahuitl : sword - club for rituals fightings , equipped with obsidian blades - doc . Florentine Codex IX - to the right, Spear points obsidian found in an offering of the Mayan city of Palenque ( Museum of America , Madrid). - Click on the photos to enlarge.

The first human settlement in Guatemala signs are dated 10,000 BC ... and by obsidian tools and weapons.

The Maya obsidoan Roads :

Roads used by the Mayans for the transport of obsidian ( and jade ) between the three major sources located in the highlands and the lowlands , Petén and Yucatan , are divided between the road Motagua - Caribbean, or by the Motagua River , via its tributaries and the rio Azul and the Mopan River , and finally the outline of the Yucatan Peninsula, with canoes, or by the overland route by Alta Verapaz . Historical and socio -political factors governing the Mayans companies involved instability of these commercial systems , was only by the presence of two competing routes .

Trade involved two major products easily transportable , prismatic blades and large nucleus / hearts. A large processing plant was located in El Baul Cotzumalguapa on the foothills on the Pacific side ; there hearts are transformed in macro obsidian blades , and  these in knives or arrowheads . This centralized production provided local and regional demand for cutting tools , thrown weapons , and various instruments for scraping , polishing and drilling .

Trade routes at the time of the Mayas - Maya Authentic card .

Trade routes at the time of the Mayas - Maya Authentic card .

 To the left , a fragment of obsidian prismatic blade from the Mayan site of Chunchucmil - photo PCHixhon - to the right, a sacrificial dagger, handle snake, in rainbow obsidian of Mexico ( 26.5 x 4 cm) - doc.Crearcheo To the left , a fragment of obsidian prismatic blade from the Mayan site of Chunchucmil - photo PCHixhon - to the right, a sacrificial dagger, handle snake, in rainbow obsidian of Mexico ( 26.5 x 4 cm) - doc.Crearcheo

To the left , a fragment of obsidian prismatic blade from the Mayan site of Chunchucmil - photo PCHixhon - to the right, a sacrificial dagger, handle snake, in rainbow obsidian of Mexico ( 26.5 x 4 cm) - doc.Crearcheo

Obsidian has played an important symbolic role in the life of the Maya, located between Guatemala and Chiapas , in Mexico.

A few examples:

It is used in rituals of self- sacrifice by blood samples ... obsidian is regarded as " the blood of the earth," and
coated by analogy a symbolic caracter.

In sacrificial ceremonies , the heart is deprived of prisoners , to offer it to the gods still throbbing from the top of the pyramids, with obsidian knives .

On the death of a prince Maya , thousands of obsidian flakes were dumped at the entrance of the tomb : although this ritual is not yet understood , the symbolism of the material is important.

Obsidian from El Chayal / Guatemala - photo sfu.museum

Obsidian from El Chayal / Guatemala - photo sfu.museum

The Mexican obsidian roads :

Different Indian tribes in Mexico used initially supply routes of the Maya, for then extend to their various religious centers.

Obsidian used in Mexico came not only from the various mining centers near Cerro de Las Navajas , Pachuca, but more distant centers , transported along the coastal trade routes , the main being that bypassing the Yucatan Peninsula .

Significant mixing of obsidian existed : for example , obsidian from Pachuca, under the control of Teotihuacan has been excavated in the Maya area , while their source of El Chayal was closer . This Guatemalan source was by cons used by the Olmecs of the Gulf Coast .

 Obsidian Shards of Las Navajas - photo Trotamexico

Obsidian Shards of Las Navajas - photo Trotamexico

Some sources in Mexico:

Sources of obsidian under the control of Teotihuacan, the multicultural metropolis of the ancient Classical period, include inter alia the site of Itzépetl,  the "obsidian hill" in Nahuatl , also known by the Spanish as the Cerro de Las Navajas , to west TMVB . It includes obsidian of several colors: black , jade green and reddish .

Obsidian from the volcanic center of Sierra of Pachuca , north of TMVB , is renowned for its translucent green color and purity. Other varieties coexist in the region, with brown to gray obsidian , showing that an only volcanic region can include a variety of obsidian flows , each characterized by optical and chemical properties, own and different .

The Tulancingo area also has green obsidian, but distinguishable from that of Pachuca by its internal opacity , making it darker and milky.

 

Sources :

- Authentic Maya - Guatemala, the cradle of tle Mayan civilization - link

- Authentic Maya - Obsidian in the Maya World - link

- Tulancigo cultural - Cerro de Las Navajas - link

- Créarchéo - L'art Maya et les excentriques - link

- Les mines-ateliers d'obsidienne de la région de Zinaparo Prieto, Michoacan, Mexique - link

Neither this overview of obsidian roads in Mesoamerica , neither these sources want to be complete !

 

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