Early Explorers of the Yucatan

© by Jeanine Kitchel Braving the jungles of Yucatan, Guatemala, and Honduras 170 years ago, John Lloyd Stephens and artist Frederick Catherwood became the first English-speaking travelers to explore this region originally known only by the Maya. A New Jersey native, Stephens gained fame for his well-known travel classics, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan (1841) and Incidents of Travel in Yucatan (1843).  Stephens was a lawyer by profession, but he  had a slight health ailment that […]

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What did the Equinox and Solstice Signify to the Maya? ©

By Jeanine Kitchel The Maya punched numbers and astronomical calculations that could make our heads swim, but nothing had more meaning to them than the movements of the sun. The Dresden Codex, one of three paper-bark books that survived the mass destruction of documents by Spanish zealots in 1562, is filled with numbers—mostly calculations for lunation cycles and Venus tables. And one of the Maya’s main calendars, the haab, is tied to the earth’s rotation cycle. They calculated it at […]

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Book Review: Maya 2012 Revealed: Demystifying the Prophecy

The Mexican Government is predicting that the coming Maya apocalypse will create a tourism boom of 52 million visitors. The state is building a new hotel at Calakmul to deal with the influx, and government-sponsored, Maya-themed tourist events abound. When I first read about the official 2012 fanfare, I thought it sounded like a desperate gimmick, a weak attempt to use a thin premise to bolster flagging tourism. After all, it takes about 30 seconds with Google to discover that the supposed […]

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How the Maya Controlled Their Destiny through Astronomy ©

editor’s note: The following article is the work of a new People’s Guide contributor, Jeanine Kitchel, who writes about Mexico, the Maya, and the Yucatan. In this year of the Maya, the obsession has been all about the Maya calendar and the media frenzy over the end date of their Long Count on December 21, 2012. But obscured beneath this much-hyped date is the core of Maya brilliance: their unfailing ability to accurately chronicle, assimilate, and compute the calculations of […]

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