The Maya Establish a Presence in North America

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Teriyaki, Mar 8, 2018.

  1. Lenwe Well-Known Member

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    Stupid question but. Aren´t the Mississippian Cultures archaeological sites really Mayan or mesoamerican, if you prefer, Influenced anyways? i mean the little that is know are clearly, to my perception, more close related with the Maya, Aztec, and Meso-american motives that to the late Native American motives?
    i mean the Etowah Plates could pass for Aztec or Mayan Archaeological rest if not where excavates from Etowah

    Examples Etowah



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    Examples Maya

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    Examples Aztec

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    olmec

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    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  2. SwampTiger Well-Known Member

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    You are extrapolating similar artistic styles and possible indirect trade contact with major cultural influence. Mound and pyramid building cultures are found throughout the world. I have seen articles conflating Olmec head sculpture features as exhibiting African contact and cultural ties, a rather extreme stretch considering neither cultures exhibited the ability to cross the Atlantic.

    Indirect Mesoamerican ties with the US Southeast may have been present through the extensive trade networks in the lower Mississippi valley and the western Gulf of Mexico. Direct influence on Mississippian culture by Mesoamerica is unlikely.
     
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  3. Thesaurus Rex Extinction! Destruction! Catastrophe! A really b-

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    Putting this in a spoiler tag so I don't hog up the page.
    I mean, that technically still falls within the range of the Postclassic, but you're right about Chichen's political (and cultural to an extent) dominance waning around 1000. I had some more dated data and sources about construction projects and regional archaeological phases in my head, but apparently the dates have been refined.

    I would argue though that it was still quite urban despite losing some importance up until the thirteenth century, where both native historical (Chilam Balam, Diego de Landa) and archaeological sources state the city underwent a serious depopulation (though not necessarily complete abandonment). I'm not sure it would make sense for Mayapan to launch an invasion of Chichen Itza if it was already reduced to a rural town with no political importance.
    I feel you're misunderstanding me. Sky blue is closer to green than Navy blue, but neither of those are green. I'm just stating, in the absence of actual examples of empire, the examples that come the closest to the definition even if the resemblance is small. In this case, Mayapan's unity of various Yucatan provinces together in a more or less centralized tributary structure.

    As a pedantic aside, the ethnohistorical accounts of Hunac Ceel's defeat of Chichen Itza and distribution of territory among his Tabascan mercenaries strikes me a lot as conquest-minded.
    I say this because finding a good source for the actual geographic boundaries of the Yucatan has been quite difficult. Very few maps cut it off at the southern end of Belize, Wiki's unsourced interpretation seems to be the smallest, but most maps seem to cut it off at the southern end of Quintana Roo, which more or less approximates the extents given by Ralph L. Roys of Mayapan's provinces (which is the source of the kuchkabal map I linked previously). I had the 'smaller' (e.g stops at QR) conceptions in mind.

    Also, it was just Ecab that was governed entirely by batab'ob. The other northern Yucatan states had a halach uinik or similar central figure (often alongside a halach uinik if the case)
    Source on mostly prestige goods? Both Columbus' accounts and the archaeological record show a large mix of luxury and commodity goods, some of the commodities being fish, ground meal (corn or wild seeds), cotton and salt. There is well-documented evidence of a thriving salt trade in the Caribbean, that salt also used to store perishable meats. William Keegan and Corinne Hoffman's The Caribbean Before Columbus goes a bit on this. In any case I was referring to the canoes' ability to haul large amounts of cargo, not necessarily detailing the type of haul.

    The Maya had good reason to hug the coast. The ocean currents of the Gulf & Caribbean Sea are notably strong, and combined with the winds can give you a hard time even without a sail. If you wind up at the wrong place out at sea, the current's going to carry you and your canoe out at a rate even teams of paddlers in a relatively fast canoe will have trouble beating. It's just not worth exhausting yourself and surrendering to the sea. Combined with the prevailing winds, the Loop Current is a tremendous obstacle to canoe travel to Cuba. Yet despite the dangers the inconclusive evidence for Mesoamerican-Cuban travel is interesting. I think since that article was posted there was a discovery of a jadeite deposit in Hispaniola which might explain the origin of some Caribbean jade, but I haven't found any explanations for the beeswax, which was apparently a relatively common commodity despite the Taino not raising bees.

    Adding to the lack of Phoenician-levels of trade and cultural diffusion are the specifics of the trading culture. You don't just trade to get new stuff; trade is also a way to maintain relationships and power dynamics. For that, it's better to trade with people you've already established those cultural relationships with, or can otherwise easily establish through a shared culture or language. The existing canoe technology got to those places just fine for the purposes the Maya sought. It's when the purpose starts failing to fit what's available that you begin to see technological change.

    There's not exactly a whole lot to diffuse anyway through just trade, outside of some styles of material culture (fashion, architecture, ceramics etc). Whatever they may have been able to diffuse, the people they could trade with usually had something similar that they preferred. Even writing; most Mesoamerican cultures had some tradition of painting information (many with phonetic elements), and Maya writing's ability to encode purely spoken langauge (never mind the fact that it's only good for Mayan languages) probably wasn't considered a huge difference from the other writing systems. Then there's the thing about the nature of Maya writing being totally different from how Phoenician script was used -- as far as we know, it was entirely a liturgical, upper class writing system. Not having a wide variety of Maya texts has hurt the study in this, but it does seem to be a rather inefficient system for accounting and other secular duties that could easily spread through prolonged contact.

    Making cultures more Maya-like requires a stronger relationship than what a typical trade network would entail, especially a typical trading relationship with a foreign culture.
    You know, I'm not a sailor but that's an interesting idea. The balsa trees used for Andean watercraft are in Central America as well. Being rafts of incredibly lightweight wood I imagine there'd be almost no draft -- ergo, the power of the currents to pull the craft also diminished? The triangular sails would also be able to beat the wind problem as well being able to efficiently tack. Yeah, I think balsas could work quite well in the American Mediterranean. Though I'd like to hear professional input.
    Cavalry charges were used a lot in Central and West Mexico, but not so much in the Yucatan for obvious reasons. It's worth noting that the Maya also had plenty of fortifications and walled towns -- in addition to being a city on an island, Nojpeten, capital of the last Maya state (not including Chan Santa Cruz) also had walls. The disadvantage here is you can just lay siege and bombard the city, which was a pretty effective tactic. In their defense though they did last out until 1697, which is pretty good.
    Well, none that children should hear.

    "Maya in America" is a pseudoarchaeological disaster that's been spitting in the face of the work real archaeologists have done to study the pre-Columbian cultures of the Eastern Woodlands, as well as denigrating to the descendants of these cultures. Some of these people actually go on to do their own ambiguously legal 'digs' and wind up permanently damaging sites just to prove a pre-existing assertion. I have no respect for people who hijack, sensationalize and even damage elements of other people's fields just to get a little money and fame.

    In any case, it's been discussed before.

    (Hi, do you think you can crunch those down into spoiler tags so it doesn't flood the feed? :))

    These artifacts might look a little similar, but if you look closely they're worlds different with totally different styles, motifs, and ideas presented. Look at the copper plate at the top, for example: this is a falcon-themed dancer, carrying a ceremonial stone club and headdress whose shapes are unique to the region. There are elements of this falcon culture and dance in modern Native American traditions. The Maya mural further down depicts a lord and a captive. The only similarities I can see is that they both use shells in their apparel, but they both use it in entirely different fashions.

    There is a well documented history of both Mesoamerican and Eastern Woodland cultures developing their styles completely independently, back to a few thousand years BC. You can witness the evolution of EW culture from Watson Brake to Poverty Point up to the Hopewell and finally Mississippian period. Aside from one obsidian artifact, there is no evidence of any direct Mesoamerican trade of any kind. Timothy R. Pauketat, a leading scholar of Mississipian cultures, has some ideas about possible Mesoamerican-EW cultural interaction, but there is no evidence to support it and his colleagues aren't quite receptive to those claims either.
     
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  4. Lenwe Well-Known Member

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    Ok I will edit my post putting spoilers

    Sorry for the inconveniece
     
  5. Richard V Well-Known Member

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    My point is fortifications need to become widespread. The value of fortification isn’t that they are impregnable, but that they impose costs of time and manpower on the attacker, even a technological superior one. To properly lay siege the attacker has to surround the fortress to prevent escape and reinforcement, difficult to do for a numerically inferior expedition.

    Furthermore putting a wall around a settlement isn’ the same as building purely military fortresses. A city you can’t afford to lose. A fortress is an offensive weapon, its presence is obnoxious to your foe but you can afford to build more if lost. A good example is the Maori Pa, a hastily built wooden hill fort system that was very effective against the British. These were cheap to build. The Maoris used them to inflict maxium casualties on the attacker, then abandoned them to build another one, and another one. In modern terms we would call them field fortifications like the trenches of WWI.
     
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  6. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    One problem with the whole idea of deliberate MesoAmerican expansion into the gulf coast or US Southwest (as opposed to occasional trade or diffusion of cultural traits, which no doubt did occur) is that the MesoAmerican governments did not undertake or sponsor widespread exploration for "new lands". They sought instead to conquer, dominate, or expand relationships with other states in MesoAmerica they already knew about and could reach relatively easily overland. This was probably a result of the relatively primitive transport technology available to them (no draft animals, wheeled vehicles, or ocean-going ships), but it might also reflect the somewhat isolated and insular nature of MesoAmerica as opposed to other centers of civilization.
     
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  7. Thesaurus Rex Extinction! Destruction! Catastrophe! A really b-

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    The Maya (and other Mesoamerican cultures for that matter) were familiar with those as well, but they seem to have not been as prevalent in the Yucatan by the Postclassic, probably due to the shifting nature and style of warfare. Ambush tactics were quite effective against the Spanish in the conquest era, which is partly why the Itza survived for so long. The thing is the Spanish were just an enemy that kept on coming. They already had a strong foothold in Mexico from the Aztec conquest and could afford the slow, steady push into the Yucatan, using both diplomacy and attrition in addition to outright warfare. So I'm not particularly confident that a strategic use of standalone fortresses could have helped much in this set of circumstances and factors.

    I'm not as versed on NZ history as I'd like to be, but weren't most (or all) pā fortified villages themselves? I think the Maori's use of actual trench warfare, along with access to guns and having NZ's island geography itself as defense certainly helped too.
    To be honest, that was pretty much the modus operandi for nearly the whole world before the Age of Discovery. ;)
     
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  8. Richard V Well-Known Member

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    Pa was a fort, usually a place to keep food from being stolen by raiders. The Maori discovered these old ways of war worked against the British. They would sometimes construct them overlooking something vital, like a road to challenge the British to a fight.

    I think a common misconception of fortifications is that somehow they were passive. Actually the purpose is for a forward base to conduct raids and ambushes. After carrying out an attack the fort is a safe hide to retreat to if pursued, therefore reducing the risk of carrying out offensive operations. It’s also why walled settlements are an entirely different concept altogether.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  9. Flashman A Real Go-Getter

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    I suppose it's not impossible that a group of Polynesians washing up on the southern shores of Central America and transmitting sail technology to the locals. After all, there is a not-terrible case to be made that the Polynesians transmitted ship building technology to two other Amerind peoples (the Chileans and the Chumash), so I don't see it as impossible for something similar to happen in central america.

    The question becomes, what interest would the Maya have in establishing a thalassocracy?
     
  10. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    Not sure about the Chilean one, but the Chumash example seems to have been pretty thoroughly disproven and is based on one potential cognate between Polynesian languages and Chumash, and the fact the Chumash built different boats than other California Indians. And although the currents lead to Central America, it's still very far away compared to where the Polynesians actually lived. You'd need Polynesian settlements in Galapagos and Cocos Island to have any sort of contact between Polynesia and Central America.
     
  11. Flashman A Real Go-Getter

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    Well I think there is some evidence that the Polynesians at least landed on the Galapagos, but a settlement would be impossible due to the lack of water.
     
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  12. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    What is the evidence for that? If they did land on Galapagos, they wouldn't find there to be a lack of water, since there are natural freshwater sources on some islands, for one, and for two, rainwater is plentiful almost every year. So it definitely wouldn't be impossible for a premodern culture to settle there.
     
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  13. Lenwe Well-Known Member

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    We know for sure that The native Mapuches in Chile have examples of fowl before The Spanish Arrival from a possible Polynesian Origin, but The genetic sequence Is inconclusive https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araucana

    Now if you Are speaking of The Ona, alacalufes, kawesqar and other indigenous population of The southern Chile called the Ocean- nomads, who lived principally in boats and feed from Fish,shellfish and seals, i never ear their boats were Polynesian inspired

    Edit: grammatical errors and some spanglish
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
  14. Flashman A Real Go-Getter

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    The chicken evidence looks less and less convincing by the day IMO.

    Some people have called a stone head found on Chiloe Island a "moai", but this strikes me as wishful thinking more then anything else, and nothing seems to have been written about it in English.

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  15. Lenwe Well-Known Member

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    Well i get this study from humans bones found in Mocha that suggested a possible Polinesian origin
    http://patrimonioceanico.cl/analisi...-presencia-de-navegantes-polinesios-en-chile/


    And serching i found another study that in Isla mocha they found bones that suggest a possible independet domestication of Guanacos, genétically not related With The Peruvian population
    https://www.nature.com/articles/srep38708?WT.feed_name=subjects_population-genetics

    Most of these Discovery áre pretty recent 2016 or so, it's still under study
     
  16. Flashman A Real Go-Getter

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    Domestication of guanacos in no way suggest Polynesian contact
     
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  17. Lenwe Well-Known Member

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    OK I concede that the Guanacos don´t suggest Polynesian influence.

    But what about the Study published in the Journal of pacific Archaeology?
    an here other Discovery (in Spanish) from the January 2017 that found human bones that also show possible Polynesian origin.
    again pretty recent discoveries, still unpublished

    http://www.upla.cl/noticias/2017/01...-evidencias-de-mestizaje-con-poblacion-local/

    Edit: Maybe we must create another tread for this conversation if we want to continue as this have nothing to do with OP question
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  18. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not arguing against Polynesian contact and transmission of crops/animals, I'm arguing against the idea the Polynesians transmitted sailing technologies to any Amerindian group. I haven't encountered claims of transmitting sailing to the South American coast which Polynesians visited, but I have encountered claims of Polynesian contacting with the Chumash of California which as I said, is based on one potential cognate, and the fact the Chumash have different boats than other California Indians. These claims have been repeatedly shot down.
     
  19. Flashman A Real Go-Getter

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    It's based on the fact that that particular boat design (sewn-plank) that is attributed to Polynesian contact is also shared by people of the Chilean isles. In fact, these are the only two cultures in the America who possessed this ship design.

    But regardless of whether or not it happened IOTL, there's no reason a single Hawaiian or Rapanui cast-away couldn't transmit sailing technology to Indians.
     
  20. EmperorOfTheNorthSea Sovereign of all Scandinavia and the Rus

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