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Maya controversy and Mount Ararat

27 December 2011

At www.examiner.com/road-trip-travel-in-atlanta/has-an-1100-year-old-mayan-… … in this instance, Georgia in SE North America, on the opposite of the Caribbean to the Maya peoples of Yucatan and Belize, etc. The airing of this story has revealed a deep seated controversy with academics on one side, seeing the mound builders, and related structures, as purely an indigenous North American development – after all, mounds occur in many prehistoric cultures, especially in the old world, and do not necessarily involve migration (of people or ideas). On the other side are a hotchpotch of enthusiastic amateurs willing to see Maya connections in every strange ediface they happen to chance upon – this time, in the mountains of Georgia. The comments that follow the piece show that some academics even dispute if the Maya, and other advanced cultures in Mexico, could sail a boat across the Caribbean Sea – or any kind of sea going boat. I wonder how the islands of the Caribbean became populated?

At www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=52602 we learn about some interesting finds by archaeologists on Mount Ararat. One site, consisting of some kind of very large wooden structure, appears to date all the way back to the transition of the Pleistocene from the Holocene, C14 dated objects panning out between 13,100 and 9,600BC, even earlier than Gobekli Tepe, somewhat to the south and overlooking Haran. This structure, whatever it was, seems to have been visited on numerous occasions later on during the Holocene, certainly during the Chalcolithic era (5800-3000BC) and the Bronze Age (3000-1200BC). It is mostly buried beneath tons of stones and ice – and most of it remains unexplored. The small part that has been investigated is some 5m deep with what looks like stairs that descend through what looks like a multi storied structure – the biggest surprise. Not only that but the carpentry is sophisticated, with the use of mortice and tenon jointing. People are getting excited over this discovery, as well as evidence of humans in a nearby cave – also covered in soil, stones and ice. The fill has produced evidence of flax fibres, cord, scraps of fabric, bone tools and wooden objects, all dating back to the very earliest phase of the Holocene – or possibly somewhat earlier.

At http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/december-2011/article/rare-cuneifor… … a kerfuffle of sorts has been raised by the discovery in one of Malta's temples, currently being re-excavated, of a crescent moon shaped piece of agate (stone) featuring a cuneiform inscription from much further to the east, from Nippur in Sumeria to be exact, and dated by cuneiform specialists to the 13th century BC (the latter stage of the Late Bronze Age). It has been translated as a dedication to the god Sin, with origins in a temple in Nippur, a site of pilgrimage with a scribal school. How did it end up on the island of Malta at the wrong end of the Mediterranean, yet alone the wrong side of the Near East. I suppose it could be conjectured it was brought there by the 'sea peoples' in the 12th century – but they only got as far east as the Levant. It still had to cross from southern Babylonia to Syria, possibly as a result of looting by Aramean tribesmen at the end of the Late Bronze era.  The Mycenaeans were also active in the general central Mediterranean zone – at least, during LHIIIB and LHIIIC – so it might have been an oject of trade. However, there is another intriguing connection – with the Phoenicians of the 8th and 7th centuries, hundreds of years later (but that depends on what the true depth of the Greek Dark Age may have been, and plenty of revisions of chronology exist that would narrow the angle considerably). The key is in the fact the temples of Malta have an origin in the Neolithic era – much too early. However, the sanctuary was re-used by the Phoenicians, usage that continued all the way into the Roman era. The piece of agate, a gem stone, could have survived for a long time after it left Nippur, falling into the hands of a Phoenician trader who found his way to Malta  and offered it as a gift to some god, otherwise unknown.   

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