12/18/2006

Apocalypto reducks
I indicated when examining Apocalypto that it was historically accurate in most ways. Emails have blasted me regarding the Mayan culture and for not getting Mayan eras exactly right. So here goes.

The "classic" Mayan period ended with the running out of food phase toward the end of the ninth century when the Maya suffered the worst drought in 7,000 years. Archaeological evidence seems to support the theory that this drought caused a catastrophic decimation of the population and it was the driving force behind the collapse of the classic Maya civilization. It is this collapse that makes up part of the movie. The climate recovered and a second Mayan epoch took place (called the silver era), but the huge cities the Mayans had built in the south during the classical era remained abandoned and lay in the jungles to be completely covered til adventurers in planes discovered them in the 1940s and explorers on foot started to trek into the interior of Guatemala. The classic era populations left alive dispersed through the Southern parts of Mexico and what is now known as Belize. It is the Silver era that is depicted in the movie---sort of. It is this second Mayan era that we see when we go to Mexico today, particularly on the coast, and it was this Mayan culture that Cortez ran into. If you go to Cancun and visit Chichen Itza you will see structures that are part of the classical era. The Silver era Mayans built small towns, (Tolum) houses, temples, and so on; made and sold salt and created feathered clothing, something all tribes valued highly. They still practiced their religion, left writing on glyphs, and conducted human sacrifice but by no means to the extent that the Aztecs were doing in what is now Mexico City. In point of history, the massive human sacrifices were almost exclusively Aztec. The jungle had completely recovered by the time Cortez and the guys arrived, although there was a shortage of fresh water. The Conquistadors found the game plentiful and the variety of birds was staggering. So when seeing Apocalypto keep in mind that you don't go to a movie to get a history lesson; history is lousy drama. Gibson set a part of his story at the time of the Classic Maya era and the other part in the Silver era.

And remember, it is fiction.

1 comment:

boarwild said...

it's a MOVIE for God's sake NOT a documentary!

all these "interest groups" exist solely for trying to advance their own interests. uhh...that's why they're called "interest groups".

in this day and age people have their head so far up their own ass they can't see anything straight.