Monday, January 21, 2019

Those Who Went North in Hagoth’s Ships – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding those who went north in the ships that Hagoth built that is recorded in Alma 63:5-7.
    Having discussed the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean when Columbus arrived and their origination in South America, from which one group, the Taíno  were driven northward by the more aggressive and warlike Carib, let us turn to the Maya, Aztec, and Inca.
The Maya were to the east within Mesoamerica, and were not scattered around in various areas, as the Olmec were and other early cultures of Middle America

The Maya:
This ancient civilization was one of the most dominant indigenous societies of Mesoamerica. Unlike other scattered indigenous populations of Middle America, the Maya were centered in one geographical block covering all of the Yucatan Peninsula and modern-day Guatemala, Belize and parts of the Mexican states of Tabasco and Chiapas, and the western part of Honduras and El Salvador. This concentration showed that the Maya remained relatively secure from invasion by other Mesoamerican peoples.
    It is claimed by Mesoamerican theorists that a single language existed among the Maya that dates to about 1000 BC.; however, the only hard evidence of Maya writing known is that from the period 600-900 AD. In fact, linguists claim that before the Maya, there were the original peoples of Mesoamerica, the Xincan and Pupil, who both spoke a Mixe-Zoquean language in southern Mexico and Guatemala along the Pacific Coast area. These cultures and their language predated both the Maya language and the Maya people in Middle America (Michael D. Coe, The Maya: Ancient Peoples and Places series, 6th edition, Thames & Hudson, London, 1999). In addition, the Lenca people and their Lencan languages also predated the Maya in western Honduras and western El Salvador of Mesoamerica (Lyle Campbell, American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America, Oxford University Press, Oxford UK, 1997; Roberto Castillo, “Searcher for the Lenca Language,” The Deadly War of the Senses, 2002).
    Within Mesoamerica, the Maya lived in three separate sub-areas with distinct environmental and cultural differences: 1) the northern Maya lowlands on the Yucatan Peninsula; 2) the southern lowlands in the Peten district of northern Guatemala and adjacent portions of Mexico, Belize and western Honduras; and 3) the southern Maya highlands, in the mountainous region of southern Guatemala. Most famously, the Maya of the southern lowland region reached their peak during the Classic Period of Maya civilization (A.D. 250 to 900), and built the great stone cities and monuments that have fascinated explorers and scholars of the region.
The Aztec Empire covered most of Mexico, but was not in Mesoamerica other than along the border of the northernmost part of Mesoamerica

The Aztec:
When Hernán (Hernando) Cortés arrived in the New World in 1519, and helped colonize Cuba, he advanced into Mexico, which he claimed for Spain. According to Erika Cosme, Coordinator of Education and Digital Services at the Mariner’s Museum and Park in Newport New, Virginia, with its collection of 32,000 artifacts and over one million pieces of archival material, with a mission to connect the people of the world through the ocean and its relationship to humanity, "Cortés was a smart, ambitious man who wanted to appropriate new land for the Spanish crown, convert native inhabitants to God, and plunder the lands for gold and riches." 
    Leaving Cuba, where the indigenous peoples were little more than savages, the Spanish, expecting to encounter more of the savage indigenous peoples were stunned when they encountered the Aztec Empire with the astonishing beauty of its capital of Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City). They compared the architectural and engineering achievements of the Aztec buildings to Venice and other great cities of Europe. Later, as the Spanish explored the lands southward they encountered the long abandoned cities of the ancient Maya, which proved to be even more impressive. As Cortéz prepared to invade the Maya Highlands in 1522, after defeating Tenochtitlan and the Aztecs the year before, the Kaqchikel Maya of Iximche and the K'iche' Maya of Q'umarkaj, sent envoys to Cortés to declare their allegiance to the Spanish as the new rulers of Mexico.
The Aztec Empire, along with the Tarascan Empire, both dominated the central area of southern Mexico before the Spanish arrived

This did not include the Tarascan state, the ancient and powerful Tarasca Empire, which was to the north in West Central Mexico and once controlled, along with the Aztecs, the extreme northwestern part of Mesoamerica and West Central Mexico. The Tarascans were the ones who developed metallurgy along the coast long before those who occupied Mesoamerica; and when they finally fell to the Spanish, it was there mines and metal reserves that the Spanish seized.
    For the Spanish, seeing these magnificent structures erected in the Aztec and Maya territories, raised a problem for they fully expected to find uncivilized development among the natives but found an advancement far beyond anything they could have imagined. This led to a great difficulty in how to explain the high culture of the New World in terms of what was known about their own history.
    There was an incredible European pride and arrogance displayed in their view that the pagan, godless people of the New World could not have possibly built these magnificent cities without some sort of inspiration and guidance from the Old World. Consequently, the first attempts to explain the achievements of the ancient people of the New World were couched in terms of what was known at the time about the rise of civilization in the Old World. Of course, the source available to the scholars of the day, namely the priests of the Catholic church, was the Bible.
    In fact, there is great difficulty for many people even today to accept the fact that the indigenous peoples of the New World evolved independently and achieved a greatness that eclipsed the European culture of the time. It is a very sobering fact to realize at the zenith of the Maya experience, around 800 AD, London (Romano-British Londinium) was a small Roman outpost, and did not become an established city until Alfred the Great re-established English control of London in 886, rebuilding it and calling it Lundenburh, which was conquered first by Sweyn Forkbeard of Jutland, king of Denmark, who was the son of Harald Blåtand (Bluetooth) Gormsson, king of Denmark (the first of the Jelling dynasty) and also king of Norway, and then Sveinn’s (Sweyn) son, Cnut (Canute) in 1016, who then claimed himself king of England, Denmark and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes (M. K. Lawson, M. K. (2004), Cnut: England's Viking King (2nd ed.), Tempus Publishing LTD (History Press), Stroud UK, 2004, p97).
    While all of this was going on in Europe, the Maya in all their accomplishments in building and organization reached its peak before London became a city, a fact that was difficult for the Spanish conquerors of the Aztecs and Maya to understand. This was especially problematic in view of the state of the Aztec and Maya cultures at the time of their conquest by the Spanish—they simply were not seen as capable of such engineering magnificence, and the conquerors, especially their priests, attributed the work to the Devil and went about destroying all they could.
    This misunderstanding by the Spanish, and now most historians and scholars, thinking that who the Spanish conquered had built the ancient structures, pyramids, and complexes that so awed the invaders. Like the Inca to the south, the Spanish could not believe the people they saw and conquered were capable of building the magnificent centers that they found—and they were right. However, it was not the Devil that had built them, but a people who preceded the Maya, Aztec and Inca, who entered the “new world” with advanced knowledge, experience and history acquired from the land from which they left.
    The Americas developed in a manner completely different from the slow diffusion and progression of Europe and Asia; however, the Spanish and later other Europeans who flocked to the “new world” had no idea of such events.
(See the next post, “Those Who Went North in Hagoth’s Ships – Part III,” regarding the people who preceded the Maya, Aztec and Inca, and who built that vast advanced cities and pyramids that still stand in Meso-, Central, and South America)

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