Category Archives: WORLD

Over half a century ago, deep in the jungles of Guatemala, a gigantic stone head was uncovered 

Over half a century ago, deep in the jungles of Guatemala, a gigantic stone head was uncovered

The face had fine features, thin lips, and a large nose, and its face was directed up at the sky.  Unusually, the face demonstrated Caucasian features that were not consistent with any of the pre-Hispanic races of America.  The discovery rapidly attracted attention, but just as quickly it slipped away into the pages of forgotten history.

News of the discovery first emerged when Dr. Oscar Rafael Padilla Lara, a doctor of philosophy, lawyer and notary, received a photograph of the head in 1987 along with a description that the photograph was taken in the 1950s by the owner of the land where the head was found and that it was located “somewhere in the jungles of Guatemala”. 

The photograph and story were printed in a small article in the newsletter ‘Ancient Skies’, which was picked up and read by well-known explorer and author David Hatcher Childress, one of our guest authors at BBC, who sought out to discover more about the mysterious stone head.

He tracked down Dr. Padilla who reported that he found the owners of the property, the Biener family, on which the monolith was found. The site was 10 kilometers from a small village in La Democracia in the south of Guatemala.

However, Dr. Padilla said that he was in despair when he reached the site and found that the site had been obliterated: “It was destroyed by revolutionaries about ten years ago. We had located the statue too late. It was used as target practice by anti-government rebels. This totally disfigured it, sort of like the way the Sphinx in Egypt had its nose shot off by the Turks, only worse,” he said.

The eyes, nose, and mouth had completely gone. Padilla was able to measure its height as between 4 and 6 meters, with the head resting on a neck. Padilla did not return again to the site due to armed attacks between government forces and rebel forces in the area. 

The destruction of the head meant the story died a rapid death until it was picked up again a few years ago by filmmakers behind “ Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond ” who used the photograph to claim that extra-terrestrials have had contact with past civilizations.

The producer published a document written by Guatemalan archaeologist Hector E Majia who wrote: “I certify that this monument presents no characteristics of Maya, Nahuatl, Olmec or any other pre-Hispanic civilization.

It was created by an extraordinary and superior civilization with awesome knowledge of which there is no record of existence on this planet.”

However, far from helping the cause and the investigation into the monolith, this publication only served to have the opposite effect, throwing the whole story into the hands of a justifiably skeptical audience who thought that it was all just a publicity stunt. Even the letter itself has been drawn into question with some saying that it is not genuine. 

Nevertheless, it appears the giant head did exist and there is no evidence to suggest the original photograph is not authentic or that Dr. Padilla’s account was false.  So assuming it was real, the questions remain: Where did it come from? Who made it? And why?

The region where the stone head was reported to have been found, La Democracia, is actually already famous for stone heads which, like the stone head found in the jungle, also face skyward. 

These are known to have been created by the Olmec civilization, which flourished between 1400 and 400 BC.  The Olmec heartland was the area in the Gulf of Mexico lowlands, however, Olmec-style artifacts, designs, monuments, and iconography have been found in sites hundreds of kilometers outside the Olmec heartland, including La Democracia. 

Nevertheless, the stone head depicted in the 1950s photograph does not share the same features or style as the Olmec heads.  The late Phillip Coppens, Belgian author, radio host and TV commentator on matters of alternative history raised the question of whether the head “is an anomaly of the Olmec period, or whether it is part of another – unknown – a culture that predated or post-dated the Olmecs, and whose only artifact identified so far is the Padilla head”.

Other questions that have been posed include whether the structure was just a head, or whether there was a body underneath, like the Easter Island statues, and whether the stone head is linked to any other structures in the region. 

It would be nice to know the answers to these questions but sadly it appears the publicity surrounding the film “Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond” only served to bury the story deeper into the pages of history.  Hopefully an ambitious explorer will pick up the story once again and investigate further to find the truth regarding this enigmatic monument.

11,000-year-old mine in the underwater cave found by archaeologists

11,000-year-old mine in the underwater cave found by archaeologists

Paleoindian ochre mining has been found by divers in three underwater caves near Akumal, on the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

From the Maya era, the cave’s were a source of mineral and pigment but they were long preceded by mining activity in this Cave at the end of the latter ice age, 12,000 years ago, and 2000 more. That makes this cave networks the oldest known mine in the Americas.

The cave became submerged with the postglacial rise of sea levels about 8,000 years ago and the saltwater in limestone caves helped preserved the archaeological evidence left by the ancient miners.

Over the course of 100 dives since 2017, underwater archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) divers with the Research Center for the Aquifer System of Quintana Roo (CINDAQ) have explored more than four miles of tunnels and passages in three cave systems.

A recent survey of a half-mile section of passages known as La Mina revealed 155 stacks of stones, tools, charcoal remains of human-set fires on the floor, soot accumulation on the ceiling and most probative of all, pits and trenches carved out of the floor where trace mineral analysis found ocher residue.

Stalactites and stalagmites were deliberately broken to allow people and materials to navigate the narrow passages. The flowstone floor was cracked and shattered to extract the ochre underneath it. Broken stalactite/stalagmites were used as hammerstones. Piles of mine spoil line the walls.

There was a comprehensive mining program, all of it done in the dark areas of the cave. The closest natural light source was at a minimum of 650 feet away, more than 2,000 feet away at the furthest point.

“The cave’s landscape has been noticeably altered, which leads us to believe that prehistoric humans extracted tonnes of ocher from it, maybe having to light fire pits to illuminate the space,” points out Fred Devos.

Until now, no human skeletal remains have been found; however, rudimentary digging tools, signs —that would have been used in order not to get lost— and stacks of stones left behind by this primitive mining activity have been located.

The abundance of ocher filled cavities has led experts to theorize about the rocks themselves being used as tools to excavate and break down the stone.

Iron-rich red ochre was used by humans for tens of thousands of years. The mineral pigment was used in rock art, funerary rituals, pottery decoration, and personal adornment.

In ancient America, ochre has been discovered in art, on human remains, in toolkits, on grinding stones, in tanned hides, and much more. La Mina’s ochre was of particularly high quality, very pure in iron oxide and composed of particles so fine-grained that it was basically ready for use as paint as soon as it was mined.

Skeletal remains have been discovered in other cenotes. The 12,000-year-old skeleton of a teenage girl dubbed Naia found in the cenote of Hoyo Negro near Tulum less than 20 miles southwest of Akumal is the oldest complete human skeleton in the Western Hemisphere.

Naia was a contemporary of the miners who sought ochre in caves 15 miles away from her final resting place.

The discovery that these cave systems were mined for thousands of years opens up the possibility that instead of falling victim to an accident — the going theory as regards Paleoindian remains in cenotes — individuals like Naia may have been scouting caves for valuable ochre.

The face of a 7500-year-old woman reveals Gibraltar’s earliest humans

The face of a 7500-year-old woman reveals Gibraltar’s earliest humans

The Minister of heritage Dr. John Cortes unveiled a historical reconstruction of the head of a Neolithic woman who lived in Gibraltar 7,500 years ago.

Archeologists who worked in the Gibraltar National Museum discovered and excavated their remains, called “Calpeia,” the classical name of the Rock from a burial site near Europa Point in 1996.

Recent advances permitted segments of her DNA to be extracted. A combination of the technology currently available and the skills of Gibraltar National Museum Conservator, Manuel Jaen, had made this in-house project a reality.

Assisting Dr Cortes at the unveiling was Director of the museum Professor Clive Finlayson, Dr Geraldine Finlayson, Stewart Finlayson and Mr Jaen.

Human hair was used in the reconstruction process that took Mr Jaen six months. Holding a 3D printed version of the skull found in 1996 during an excavation, Professor Finlayson explained the process of how Calpeia came to be.

“She was in a burial and we now know she was a she as she comes from the Neolithic period of around 5,400BC.”

“We were able to extract DNA from the skull so we know a number of things.”

“We know she was a female, we know she had features associated with dark hair, dark eyes and the interesting thing was when we look at her ancestry 10% of her genes were local Mesolithic hunter gathers but 90% of her genes were from Anatolia [modern day Turkey],” he said.

“I am not going to go into the ins and outs of Neanderthals being different species or not, but if the Neanderthal is a different linage and Nana is the first female Neanderthal, I think what you are going to see today is truly a modern human,” he added.

“Through Forensic data, & the key word is ‘forensic’, we have created Calpeia”

Calpeia’s skull had been deformed post-burial so the process of her reconstruction included the reshaping of a scanned copy of the skull, and completing the missing areas.

Dr Cortes described the work that Mr Jaen and the museum carried out as “extraordinary”.

He said: “When I saw what you are about to see a few days ago it was breath-taking, congratulations to Manuel for this incredible piece of work.”

“This young lady, I think she was late 30s early 40s, lived in Gibraltar seven and a half thousand years ago. She was buried in a cave at Europa Point.”

“I am told there was no agriculture in Gibraltar at that time, they were probably fishing living off the sea and living off the land.”

“But she was in Gibraltar, a Gibraltarian, though whether she was born here or travelled here we will never know. But, so many of us born here or who have travelled here consider ourselves Gibraltarian,” he added.

Dr Cortes said he, like Professor Finlayson, would not be drawn on whether Neanderthals are or not the same species as modern humans but stated that Calpeia was not a Neanderthal.

“So you are about to see the face of the first known Gibraltarian of seven and a half thousand years ago,” he said.

“So when you see her try and push your mind back all those years ago when the Rock was very, very different, still our Rock, still our Gibraltar, still lived, played and suffered and had their day to day life in a different way but they were humans just like us with the same emotions.”

The secret cave lies hidden below the enormous ‘Moon Pyramid’

The secret cave lies hidden below the enormous ‘Moon Pyramid’

A secret cave hidden underneath a Mexican pyramid offers clues about the urban design of Teotihuacan, one of the largest and most vibrant cities of ancient times.

Located about 80 kilometers outside of today’s Mexico City, Teotihuacan peaked in AD 300–650, well before the Aztecs. The city boasted three monumental pyramids arranged along the 2.4-kilometer ‘Street of the Dead’.

Two of the pyramids were already known to overlie caves and tunnels, which were excavated by Teotihuacanos to obtain construction materials, and were later repurposed for activities such as astronomical observations, the veneration of death and the enthronement of rulers.

Denisse Argote at the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City and her colleagues measured the electrical resistance of the ground beneath the third structure, the 43-meter-high Moon Pyramid.

They discovered a partially filled cavern about 15 meters underneath the edifice.

Unlike the other caves, this one seems to have formed naturally. Argote and her colleagues think the first settlers of Teotihuacan might have chosen it to be the focal point from which the rest of the city was planned.

Hard Science Unlocks Secrets of Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Moon

Previous archaeological digs at Teotihuacan have revealed a series of man-made tunnels beneath the Pyramids of the Sun and of Quetzalcoatl, the latter of which is also called the Temple of the Feathered-Serpent.

These had mostly been excavated for construction materials in upper structures, and according to a report in Heritage Daily, these tunnels were later “repurposed for astronomical observations and for venerating death in the underworld.”

The team of scientists applied ERT and ANT surveys, which are non-invasive geophysical techniques analyzing the electrical resistance of the ground beneath the structure.

They identified a natural void beneath the Pyramid of the Moon and a partially filled cavern at a depth of 15 meters (49 ft.) Contrasting with the man-made tunnels beneath the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan, the researchers believe that the cave under the Pyramid of the Moon “formed naturally,” and had been a focal point for the early settlers, in turn, influencing how the city was planned out.

Otherworldly Architectural Town Planning

With the placement of the pyramid at the end of the Avenue of the Dead, at the foot of Cerro Gordo, shaped to reflect the contours of these mountains, the researchers theorize that it was “symbolic of a connection between the avenue and the watery underworld, whereas the mountain serves as an anchor to the earth.” They said the impact of this discovery opens a discussion about the original planning of Teotihuacan ’s urban design.

The discovery under Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Moon help’s explain the city’s urban design.

The first human establishment in the area dates back to around 600 BC when farmers began tilling the Teotihuacan Valley, which at that time had a total population of about 6,000 inhabitants.

However, due to the development of successful agricultural technologies, from 100 BC to 750 AD, Teotihuacan morphed into a huge urban and administrative center with cultural influences throughout Mesoamerica.

Mapping the Ancient Underworld

Period III, from 350 to 650 AD, the so-called classical period of Teotihuacan, had an estimated 125,000 inhabitants. At that time it was one of the largest cities of the ancient world – with over 2,000 buildings in an 18 square kilometer (6.95 sq. mile) area. 

This period saw the massive reconstruction of monuments; including the decorating of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent which dates back to an earlier period.

Period IV, between 650 and 750 AD, marks the end of Teotihuacan as a major power in Mesoamerica. The remains of the homes of the city’s elites, which line the Avenue of the Dead, bear burn marks which lead archaeologists to hypothesize that the city experienced waves of violent social unrest that brought about the city’s decline.

What the newly discovered cave system essentially does is answer the question “why” the first settlers stopped here and started building precisely where they did, and not say 10 miles east or five miles south.

The cave beneath the pyramid suggests that people revered this natural access to the underworld so much that around it they built one of the most influential and biggest cities of the ancient world.

And the remains of that vast crumbling ancient city, which was aligned with the Sun, moon, and stars, it would seem, is a 1:1 map of the underworld – with the Avenue of the Dead acting as the main channel to the other side.