Izapa, Mexico Temple - 14.8º North Latitude
Zenith Sun Passages for measuring 260-days began with: Olmec- - - -Izapa - - - Maya
1500 BC- - -500 BC- - -200 AD
Temple (Latin): "A place set apart where the heavens can be observed" -- Izapa, Mexico, and Nazca, Peru -100 BC.
14.8º North & South Latitudes = 260 day count
V. Garth Norman
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Izapa Sacred Space by V. Garth Norman. Book Review by Dr. Allen J. Christensen --at bottom of this Home Page)
Chapters 1-5: The Izapa Temple Center is at the precise latitude where the zenith sun passages measure 260 days (9 months). This is the human gestation time before the birth of a baby--the summum bonum supreme creation on earth. Ancient astronomers (ca. 1500 BC Olmec Mother Civilization) followed the sun cycle which led them to Izapa, in southern Mexico where the zenith sun passage occurs on August 13 and April 30--with 260 days counted from the first to the second of these dates. By this ancient astronomy Izapa is forever linked to the divine creation cosmos.This began the Mesoamerican Calendar Round.
A new group (ca. 500 BC) of ancient religious astronomers settled at the abandoned Izapa site and continued observing the sun, moon and star rise cycles on the eastern horizon to encode their sacred ritual calendar. They inscribed astronomical records on stone monuments at Izapa to portray the creation of the earth and the sacred creation of a child as a gift from the heavenly creator gods. Izapa Stela 10 (below left) shows a baby in the upper clouds descending to its mother reclining by a Tree of Life. Izapa Stela 5 Tree of Life monument (below right) has a tree in the center with a female goddess on the left and a male god on the right and a family seated on the base panel on either side of the tree that has 12 roots (See: NWAF IZAPA SCULPTURE PROJECT page).
In 1973, Geographer Vincent Malmström observed that Izapa, located at 14.8° North latitude, marks the sun's zenith passage on August 13th and April 30th, which measures the sacred 260-day cycle. From it's inception at Izapa (ca. 1500 BC) it spread throughout Mesoamerica and to North and South America.
Click to read the article The Maya 260-Day Sacred Creation Ceremony
Today's Maya 260-Day Sacred Creation Ceremonies
Chapter 13: Maya sacred 260-Day ceremonies were held at Izapa in the summer of 2010 sponsored by the Institute of Maya Studies-Jim Reed Editor (Miami, Florida), The Maya Conservancy-Georgeann Johnson and Mary Lou Ridinger (Guatemala), and Izapa Cosmos AC-Rodolfo Juan Flores (Mexico). It had been 1000 + years since these ceremonies had been performed at Izapa--the birthplace of the 260-Day Calendar Round.
Pictures above show bits of the ceremonies. At the left a World Circle portrayed on the ground symbolizes the creation of the World. Candles that symbolize light for the world are lit and flowers, corn and other living items are added to the circle representing life on earth. Each person in the Ceremony is blessed from head to foot. Then 12 Elders count 260 days to represent the creation of a human baby in 9 months. We were taught by the Maya that plants, animals, and humans--all forms of life were created by the great creator god to continue creating.
Maya Family Trees have traditional meanings: Tree roots symbolize ancestors, the Tree trunk symbolizes families on earth, and branches of the Tree reach into Heaven-the Place of the Gods. (A YouTube video will be finalized by January, 2015 showing the main parts of the Maya 260-Day Sacred Ceremonies from 2010.)
Guatemalan Archaeologist Mary Lou Ridinger summarizes Maya religious views recorded at Izapa as Renaissance, Transformation, Resurrection, and World's Without End. She further states, "The Maya observed the night skies, and believe in parallel universes in which the earth is a cosmic mirror of heaven--i.e. on earth as it is in heaven or as above, so below. Ancient Maya literature, architecture, and culture is a mapping of the heavens, first evident at the Izapa Temple Center. Ancient astronomers observed that new stars were continually being created in the belt of the Orion Constellation. Their observations were 2400 years before the Hubble Space Telescope discovered in the 1990's that Nebula 42-43 is a place where new stars are continually born into the universe." http://www.mayaconservancy.org/mary-lou-ridinger-tedx-talk-no-on-youtube/
Chiapas Scientist Renato Johnsson states: "The day of birth has great importance in Maya culture because it predetermines the child's character. Today's Maya Batz ceremony includes 20 x 13 counts (= 260) that is celebrated by Mayans throughout the highlands of Mesoamerica." Johnsson further states: "The influence of Izapa is spread throughout Mesoamerica. The orientation of the axis of the city of Teotihuacan (ca. 100 BC) is at sunset on August 13. The orientation of the observation tower ("caracol") of the Classice site of Chichen Itza is at sunset on August 13. The foundation of Copan, Honduras in 200 AD is on the same sacred latitude as at Izapa -- 14.8º North Latitude." Sites in North America with 260-day astronomical sightings are at Parowan Gap, Utah (ca.700 AD) and Crystal River, Florida (ca 100 BC).
Chapter 14: Izapa, Mexico's14.8º North Latitude Zenith Sun Passage that measures 260 days from August 13 to April 30 is mirrored at the Anti-Zenith Sun Passage at Nazca, Peru at 14.8º South Latitude, established at 100 BC with the nearby Cahuachi Temple. Nazca's images, lines and ceremonial centers were created with the same geometry and measurement cubits, and the same astronomy and calendar. The 260-days at Nazca are counted from February 12 to October 30. Garth Norman's travels to Nazca in March of 2014 confirmed his studies on Google Earth of Nazca, Peru, South America since 2011. Izapa's Plaza B has both Zenith and Anti-Zenith stelae symbolic of these two opposite 260 day cycle Ceremonial Centers is evidence of ancient migrations and travel along the Pacific Coast of the Americas. (Izapa's Plaza B diagram is on the Astronomy/Calendar page.).
Anti-zenith images at Nazca, Peru have Fertility and Tree of Life images opposite Izapa's Zenith similar images. Left: Desert Lines show Man, Fertility symbols, and Woman directly above geometric design. A short distance south is a Tree of Life incised into the desert floor.
Chiapas Scientist Renato Johnsson states: "This 260-day calendar influenced the "Olmec mother civiilization" (1500 BC) as seen through the geographical distribution of the Mixe-Zoque language and ceramic evidence. The 2,500 year continuous residency of Izapa is because of its role as a ceremonial center that educated others on the sacred science of the count of days in addition to a commercial center for cacao and obsidian.
Garth Norman (5th from left) and his wife Cheryl (4th from right) in 2010 with friends, Rudolfo Juan Flores and his wife Juanita, and the Maya Ceremony Elders at the Izapa Temple Center -- a place set apart where the heavens can be observed.
Book Review of V. Garth Norman's Izapa Sacred Space: Sacred Calendar Codex by Dr. Allen J. Christenson, Maya scholar and author of Popol Vuh--The Sacred Book of the Maya: The great Classic of Central American Spirituality translated from the Original K'iche Maya Text.
"This book is the culmination of fifty years of research by one of the foremost scholars in the field of Pre-Classic Mesoamerican studies, particularly focusing on the important site of Izapa, located on the southern Pacific coast of Mexico near the border of Guatemala. Archaeologist V. Garth Norman began his work at Izapa in 1962, and continued to work at the site for two decades on behalf of the New World Archaeological Foundation, resulting in the publication of his Izapa Sculpture Album in 1973, izapa Sculpture Text in 1976, and Astronomical Orientations of Izapa Sculptures in 1980, a pioneering contribution to the important field of archaeoastronomy.
"Izapa is the largest and most important Late Formative (500 BC-AD 200) center in the region, with large pyramidal structures constructed around a number of plazas dotted with sculptured monuments placed at key points. More than eighty carved monuments are known from the site, an unprecedented wealth of art and a key resource to our understanding of ancient Mesoamerican society and theology. Norman begins with the premise, first propose by Vincent Malmström in 1973, that Izapa's latitude makes it the perfect candidate for the origin of the two most important ancient Mesoamerican calendars.
"But Norman goes well beyond this important finding by asserting that the positions of the Izapa monuments constitute a massive system for calendric interpretation. In so doing, he convincingly asserts that these monuments must be studied and interpreted as a whole, rather than to read them individually or out of context. In addition, he masterfully demonstrates that the complex artistic symbolism of the Izapa monuments is just as highly developed a system of comunication as the hieroglyphic texts of the Maya. Norman's profound understanding of the underlying Mesoamerican theology of Izapa and related cultures adds much-needed blood and flesh to what otherwise would be a lifeless corpse of mathematical and astronomical data. He uses the myth narratives of the Popol Vuh and ethnographic sources creatively, showing that the Izapans were not just interested in the dance of planets and stars in the heavens but also in what these movements say about the cycles of life itself.
"This book will surely prove to be of great interest to anyone interested in the art, science, and culture of ancient Mesoamerica."
Dr. Allen J. Christenson 2014