Saturday, June 27, 2009

Art and the Divine

Just what is "good" art is of course very much a matter of taste but in a certain sense it goes beyond mere "taste" and has a certain "objective" reality perhaps related to the way the human brain is hardwired so that objects that fit a certain series of patterns, finishes etc, come across as beautiful.

It is apparent that being symmetrical, finished / smooth, carefully balanced are all associated with beauty. For example the conventional idea of female beauty or the notion of a finished work of art. Yet it is also recognized that something can be beautiful and violate these notions of beauty. In music for example a raspy, scratchy voice can be beautiful or a least interesting to listen too. (Kim Carnes anyone). And in physical beauty a certain strain of ugliness can have a certain beauty. (Keith Richards anyone).

So in the end it appears that we may have great difficulty defining what is beautiful but we seem to recognize beauty despite the difficulty of defining it.

too illustrate the point consider the following example

The Twelve sided Stone

This is perhaps the penultimate example of Inca stone work and it is found on Hatun Rumiyoc street Cuzco, Peru, probably created sometime in the late 15th early 16th century C.E. In many ways it is a violation of traditional notions of beauty. It is irregular, very unsymmetrical a bit rough and unpolished. It certainly is not conventionally beautiful. Yet it is!

I think the reason for the fact that it is beautiful is the very fine craftsmanship involved in creating a twelve sided stone and fitting it among other stones without mortar! The detail involved in making it fit so well that a knife cannot be slide between the stone blocks! In fact that this irregular, unsymmetrical stone block is so well and carefully fitted in and then carefully polished to a rough smoothness gives it a beauty.

It is also seemingly so simple that at first glance it doesn't seem all that impressive but has you gaze at the sheer audacity and difficult nature of the task completed by the Artist and Craftsmen who made it sinks it. Its simplicity is deceptive a trick played on us by the Artist. The emotions evoked are direct and visceral and frankly very hard to express in words. It is a powerful object that invokes both human aspiration and the divine.

It appears that the Artist / Architect had a moment of "Godlike" inspiration and probably shared by the Craftsmen who executed the Artist / Architect's vision. This powerful yet cool vision indicates just what humans can achieve when they are touched by the divine.

Sadly the Artist and Craftsmen are unknown to us.

The Twelve Sided Stone and it's street

Another example of a truly extraordinary but far from conventional beautiful object is this hand made of Mica.

Hopewell Mica Hand

This extraordinary artifact was found during excavations conducted in the 1920's at Hopewell in Ross County Ohio, in mound 25. It is a burial offering buried in the mound as a offering to the dead. Culturally it is related to the Hopewell culture / phase of the Americas also called the Moundbuilders. This particular artifact seems to date from c. 400-500 C.E.

Like the twelve sided stone it is not conventionally beautiful. The hand is not a realistic depiction of a hand but a stylized almost abstract rendition of a hand. The most intriguing feature of the hand aside from the fine nature of its outline cut is the curiously elongated nature of the fingers. Certainly no human has had such elongated fingers. It gives this piece a eerie feel and look and generates within the viewer a sense of unease.

In terms of technique, unlike the twelve sided stone it is likely that the artist may in fact have created this piece very quickly maybe in a matter of minutes. Certainly it is likely that the artist may in fact have spent much more time selecting a piece of Mica to work with than actually working the piece.

One of the intriguing features of this piece is how the natural creases and cracks of the mica were used to suggest ,joints and the creases of skin on fingers and the palm of the hand. Like the twelve sided stone its simplicity is deceptive it is in many respects a complicated piece.

What it means is rather hard to guess. Since it a burial offering it is possible that the offering an open hand was symbolically some sort of greeting by the dead to the afterlife world.

Unlike the twelve sided stone here we have a work created by a single Artist, probably someone who worked quickly in a moment of inspiration to create something stunningly simple and yet evocative. A moment of divine inspiration.

In some respects it fits conventional notions of beauty more than the twelve sided stone in that it is balanced and regular and yet it is ruthlessly pared down to an almost abstract rendition of a "hand", not so much a particular hand but the idea or ideal "hand". It is in many respects an example of how sometimes less is indeed more.

Another Photo of the Hand

The above photo shows how the way it is photographed influences how a work is perceived. In this case the object is more ghostly, otherworldly and ethereal. it belongs in this photo to the other world where in the previous photo it was more of an object of this world.

These two objects are examples of the Precolumbian art of the Americas an art that even today much of it is not well known and in many respects it is poorly understood These two objects were part of a world that was largely swept away but from that vanished world we have objects that show that even in that lost world humans touched the divine.


Milner, George R., The Moundbuilders, Thames and Hudson, London, 2004. A picture of the Mica Hand is on p. 169.

Stone-Miller, Rebecca, Art of the Andes, Thames and Hudson, London, 2002. A picture of the Twelve Sided Stone is on p. 198.

McEwan, The Incas: New Perspectives, W.W. Norton and Co., New York, 2006.

Pierre Cloutier

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ape and Essence
A forgotten Masterpiece

Book Cover

In 1948 inspired by the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi Aldous Huxley, who wrote Brave New World, wrote Ape and Essence1 a thoroughly pessimistic and dark view of humanity.

The first part of the story relates how two Hollywood producers, on the day of Gandhi’s assassination, found a discarded script in the trash and sought out the writer only to find out that the writer, named William Tallis, had died a few weeks earlier. On a white board in front of his house is the following sign:

The Leech’s kiss, the squids embrace,
The prurient ape’s defiling touch:
And do you like the human race?
No, not much.

Sort of indicates what a misanthrope William Tallis is.

After this short introduction the script that Mr. Tallis wrote is printed. It is divided into two sections. One is a collage of images and texts designed to set up the story the other is the story itself.

In this collage of images we see repeatedly the image of an ape / baboon indicating what the author thinks is the essence of humanity that of primitive primal urges that enslave science and learning. Thus:
…we see a bosomy young female baboon, in a shell-pink evening gown, her mouth painted purple, her muzzle powdered mauve, her fiery eyes ringed with mascara.

Behind her, on all fours and secured by a light steel chain attached to a dog collar, come Michael Faraday.3
As for science this is what is said:

Today, thanks to that Higher Ignorance which is our knowledge, man’s stature has increased to such an extent that the least among us is now a baboon, the greatest an orang-utan or even, if he ranks as a Saviour of Society, a true Gorilla.4
After some more montage shots and narration about all men being if not apes at least baboons we get the narrator saying:

Surely it’s obvious.
Doesn’t every schoolboy know it?
Ends are ape-chosen; only the means are man’s.
Papio’s procurer, bursar to baboons,
Reason comes running, eager to ratify;
Comes a catch-fart, with philosophy, truckling to
Comes, a pimp for Prussia, With Hegel's Patent His-
Comes with Medicine to administer the Ape-King’s
Comes, Rhyming and with Rhetoric, to write his ora-
Comes with Calculus to aim his rockets
Accurately at the orphanage across the ocean;
Comes, having aimed, with incense to impetrate
Our Lady devoutly for a direct hit.

Church and state
Greed and Hate:-
Two Baboon-Persons in one Supreme Gorilla.
Amen, amen.5
A couple of Einsteins, slaves to the Apes eventually die in a world wide nuclear war, complete with terrible chemical and biological weapons.

It is now the year 2108 and an expedition sent from New Zealand is approaching Los Angles. New Zealand survived because it was considered not important enough to bomb, chemically asphyxiate or biologically assault. The result is New Zealand sends an expedition to North America to see what happened and investigate now that the radiation levels are down. Our hero is a Dr. Alfred Poole a botanist with an expertise in plants and agriculture.

He is captured by the natives of the area who have reverted to barbarism. They mine libraries for books to burn as fuel. They worship Satan, calling him Belial. They call the war “the thing”. Deformed babies are sacrificed to Belial each year. The war as changed the biology of most humans so that they go into heat once a year and are basically out of control for two weeks.

Dr. Poole meets Loola who becomes his love interest even though she is wearing a costume saying NO NO NO all over it and refers to herself as a “Vessel of the unholy Spirit”.6

Dr. Poole’s nemesis in the book is the Arch-Vicar who is the head of this Satanic Church. Some of the beau-mots of this faith are as follows:

“Question: To what fate is Man predestined? Answer: Belial has, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity elected all now living to everlasting perdition.”

“Belial has perverted and corrupted us in all the parts of our being. Therefore, we are, merely on account of that corruption, deservedly condemned by Belial”

The Teacher nods approvingly.

“Such” he squeaks unctuously, “is the inscrutable justice of the Lord of the Flies.”7
In the book there is a long section about the ceremony by which the deformed children are sacrificed with the following being chanted.

Semichorus I

Whence, after much wallowing,

Semichorus II

After many long draughts of the swill,

Semichorus I

Mother emerging nine months later,

Semichorus II

Bears this mockery of a man.

Semichorus I

How then shall there be atonement?

Semichorus II

By Blood.

Semichorus I

How shall Belial be propitiated?

Semichorus II

Only by blood.8
Our hero, Dr. Poole faints from seeing the rather bloody sacrifices of infants. When he wakes up he meets the Arch-Vicar who explains how things got to this in which Belial overturned the order of things and created this hell:

The overcrowding of the planet. Five hundred, eight hundred, sometimes as many as two thousand people to a square mile of food-producing land –and the land in the process of being ruined by bad farming. Everywhere erosion, everywhere the leaching out of minerals. And the deserts spreading, the forests dwindling.

-And remember this," he adds: "even without synthetic glanders, even without the atomic bomb, Belial could have achieved all His purposes. A little more slowly, perhaps, but just as surely, men would have destroyed themselves by destroying the world they lived in. They couldn't escape. He had them skewered on both His horns. If they managed to wriggle off the horn of total war, they would find themselves impaled on starvation. And if they were starving, they would be tempted to resort to war. And just in case they should try to find a peaceful and rational way out of their dilemma, He had another subtler horn of self-destruction all ready for them. From the very beginning of the industrial revolution He foresaw -that men would be made so over-weeningly bumptious by the miracles of their own technology that they would soon lose all sense of reality. And that's precisely what happened. These wretched slaves of wheels and ledgers began to congratulate themselves on being the Conquerors of Nature. Conquerors of Nature, indeed! In actual fact, of course, they had. merely upset the equilibrium of Nature and were about to suffer the-consequences. just consider what they were up to during the century and a half before the Thing. Fouling —the rivers, killing off the wild animals, destroying the forests, washing the topsoil into the sea, burning up an ocean of petroleum, squandering the minerals it had taken the whole of geological time to deposit. An orgy of criminal imbecility. And they called it Progress. Progress," he repeats, "Progress! I tell you, that was to rare an invention to have been the product of any merely human mind-too fiendishly ironical!9.
After discussing the ideas of progress and nationalism. The Arch-Vicar concludes that these two notions, both absurd and fatal where adopted because humanity allowed itself to be possessed by Belial.

He wanted [Belial] forced migrations and mass pauperization. He wanted concentration camps and gas chambers and cremation ovens.10
The Arch-Vicar concludes:

“you’d hardly think he[Belial] could have produced us without a miracle,” the Arch-Vicar thoughtfully continues, “But He did, He did. By purely natural means, using human beings and their science as His instruments, he created an entirely new race of men, with deformity in their blood, with squalor all around them and ahead in the future, no prospects but of more squalor, worse deformity and finally complete extinction. Yes, it’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living evil.”11
Then the Church takes over for the time period of when humans mate during their “heat” which was another “gift” of the atomic bomb.

Our hero Dr. Poole and Loola find that they are in love and what is worst that they are both “Hots” and are not tied to a hormonal cycle like the rest.

Further our Dr. Poole is enlisted by the locals to try to improve crop yields and he speedily finds out that virtually all crops have been attacked by a whole legion of biological weapons that significantly reduce yields and make raising crops very difficult.

The Arch-Vicar comments that this further indicates how possessed by Belial all these people were before the war to design such weapons.

Because Dr. Poole sexual urges might get him into trouble the Arch-Vicar suggests that he join the Satanic Church and get castrated. Because of that and because he is in love with Loola both of them flee to San Francisco.

On the way there Dr. Poole and Loola pass by William Tallis’ grave and read the inscription.12

This is in many respects a savage novel. Its contempt for politicians and human self satisfaction is almost suffocating but that is at least partially balanced by a positive view of the virtues of human love.

In many respects Huxley’s vision of a possible future wreaked by human devastation of the planet is rather prophetic and certainly his predictions that in a nuclear war that the devastation wrought by chemical and biological weapons might be even worse than that of the bombs is unsettling to say the least. Certainly it is not surprising that a film was not made in the 40’s with this script.

In the end Ape and Essence is a savage attack on humanity or at least our less positive attributes.

To quote the baboon-girl:

Love, Love, love-
Love’s the very essence
Of everything I think, of everything I do.
Give me, Give me,
Give me detumescence.
That means you.13

Aldous Huxley

1. Huxley, Aldous, Ape and Essence, Harper and Row Pub., 1948.

2. IBID. p. 15.

3. IBID. pp. 26-27.

4. IBID. p. 27.

5. IBID. p. 34.

6. IBID. p. 63.

7. IBID. pp. 69-70.

8. IBID. p. 85.

9. IBID. pp. 93-94.

10. IBID. p. 97.

11. IBID. p. 99.

12. I won’t quote it I will let you find it in the novel, pp. 151-152.

13. IBID. pp. 27-28.

Pierre Cloutier

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Chariots of the Silly"
Book Cover
Chariots of the Gods,1 is one of the funniest "Science" books ever published. The ranker in it against "scientists" is only matched by the author's incredible ignorance about Archaeology. But what I found amazing was reading all the reviews at Amazon.com2 by so many people who cry out about the virtues about having an "open" mind but who don't seem to know the first thing about any of what Von Daniken writes about. Well what about reading the copious work done about say Twianku in Bolivia, or Tula in Mexico or Cuzco in Peru!
When I was twelve I read Chariots of the Gods and was a believer for about a year. Then I read a few basic texts about the Maya, Incas, etc., and discovered that Von Daniken was in error so much that well it's a joke.
A lot of the appeal of the book is the old our "ancestors were idiots" belief and if they did anything that was outstanding they must have cheated. For example I found this particular comment at a UFO website:
Von Daniken’s hypothesis may seem outrageous, to be sure, but what is even more outrageous is the idea that the profound achievements that took place in ancient cultures were merely the natural process of unassisted human development.3
Perhaps the writer of this drivel could read a few basic texts of Archaeology and human history before uttering his absurdities. I am always amazed how many people find it so hard to believe that our ancestors could have invented or done those amazing things.
But then it is clear from counting the examples that von Daniken gives that he finds more mysteries to explain in the people are non-European. For example out of the 51 examples that von Daniken gives only 2 are from Europe, 16 are from Africa, 12 from Asia, 11 from North America and 10 from South America.4 Yep those non-Europeans could not have done it themselves they must have cheated!
For example the traditional Andean accounts attribute the colossal stone construction at Cuzco and elsewhere in Peru to the Inca Emperors. For example the site of Machu Picchu, which is used for all sorts of Alien and New Age fantasies, was apparently built by the Inca Emperor Pachacuti as a summer retreat. Further such monumental construction was continuing when the Spanish came.5
As for the Maya Von Daniken's explanation for the Mayan collapse has been exploded and so has his explanation for the Sarcophagus lid from the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque, which we know from being able to read the Mayan Hieroglyphs depicts thee Mayan King Pacal falling into the maw of death down the cosmic tree. Von Daniken's comment about an inscription about a hot wind describing the death of the man in the Sarcophagus is total invention.6

Sacophagus of Pacal

Then his book is peppered with absurd comments like stating that a jade necklace found in a Mayan tomb is fantastic because we all know jade only comes from China!7 Well that is not true as even the smallest amount of research would indicate.
As for Von Daniken's research by going to various sites; well if you go and are unwilling to listen to what the researchers who have devoted their time to unravelling these sites have said you will of course view them as "mysterious".
Of course there is a lot more one could go into like von Daniken's ideas about Easter Island8, but it would be a waste of time. Instead simply checkout the more reliable sources of information on Easter Island.9
Von Daniken is a very funny joke and even funnier are those who don't see the joke.
1.von Daniken, Erich, Chariots of the Gods?, Bantam Books, 1970.
2. See reviews at Here
3. See Nelson, Adam K, Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods - Documentary film review, at Here.
4. Feder, Kenneth L, Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries, 3rd Edition, Mayfield Publishing Co., Toronto, 1999, pp. 212-213.
5. See McEwan, Gordon F, The Incas: New Perspectives, W. W. Norton and Company, New York, 2006, pp. 109-110.
6. von Daniken, pp. 99-103, The hot wind comment comes from Ferris Timothy, Playboy Interview: Erich von Daniken, Playboy, v. 212, no. 8, August, pp. 51-52 56-58, 60, 64, 151, for an analysis of the Sarcophagus lid see Schele, Linda & Freidel, David, A Forest of Kings, William Morrow and Company Inc, New York, 1990, pp. 216-261.
7. For this particular howler see von Daniken, p. 93.
8. IBID. pp. 88-92.
9. Flenley, John & Bahn, Paul, The Enigmas of Easter Island, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002.
Omohundro, John T., Von Daniken's Chariots: A Primer in the Art of Crooked Science, in Paranormal Borderlands of Science, Ed. Frazier, Kendrick, Prometheus Books, Buffalo NY, 1981, pp. 307-317.
Stiebing, William H., Ancient Astronauts, Cosmic Collisions, Prometheus Books, Buffalo NY., 1984, pp. 81-106.
Bainbridge, William Sims, Chariots of the Gullible, in Frazier, pp. 332-347. For an examination of why people believe this sort of stuff.
Story, Ronald, The Space Gods Revealed, Barnes and Nobles Books, New York, 1976.
Randi, James, Flim-Flam, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY., 1982, pp. 109-130.
Pierre Cloutier

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Shroud / Fraud of Turin

Head of Christ from the Shroud of Turin

One of the most interesting examples of modern nonsense is the veritable cult surrounding the Shroud of Turin or more accurately the Fraud of Turin. It amazes me that people can take seriously the idea that this artifact is in fact the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. What is further amazing is how so much of the time shroud gawkers have turned the onus around against sceptics to prove that the shroud is a forgery.

It does not work that way the onus in proving a miracle is on those who assert the miracle not those who doubt it. The simple fact is that it is unlikely in the extreme that the Shroud of Turin is in fact the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth.

One is further amazed about how the shroud gawkers were able to spin away with acres of special pleading and very dubious arguments the carbon 14 dating results done by three separate laboratories in 1988; they tested three different samples from three different parts of the shroud, yielded dates between 1260 -1390 C.E., or an average date of 1325 C.E, +- 65 years.1 The enormous amount of effort to get around and attack these results is positively breathtaking. The chances of such an error are frankly very minimal. Amazingly faced with the carbon 14 results the shroud gawkers still put the onus of proof on the sceptics! Of course it is also common for the shroud gawkers to simply ignore the carbon 14 dating results and act like they do not exist.

What makes the carbon 14 dating results interesting is that the mid 14th century date for the shroud also corresponds to the first literary evidence for the appearance of the shroud. It appears from the Carbon 14 results that the shroud appears just when it makes its first historical appearance.

The document is a letter is from the then Bishop of Troyes Pierre D’Arcis concerning the exhibition of the shroud The letter is mainly concerned with the impropriety of exhibiting the shroud and not with its authenticity. It does however refer to an earlier exhibition of the shroud, in the 1350’s and a investigation by a certain Henry of Poitiers then Bishop of Troyes. Right from the start the shroud was labeled a fraud.2

The letter goes as follows.

[Letter to Pope Clement VII, 1389.]

The case, Holy Father, stands thus. Some time since in this diocese of Troyes the Dean of a certain collegiate church to wit, that of Lirey, falsely and deceitfully, being consumed with the passion of avarice, and not from any motive of devotion but only of gain, procured for his church a certain cloth cunningly painted, upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Savior Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb and upon which the whole likeness of the Savior had remained thus impressed together with the wounds which He bore. This story was put about not only in the kingdom of France, but, so to speak, throughout the world, so that from all parts people came together to view it. And further to attract the multitude so that money might cunningly be wrung from them, pretended miracles were worked, certain men being hired to represent themselves as healed at the moment of the exhibition of the shroud, which all believed to be the shroud of our Lord. The Lord Henry of Poitiers, of pious memory. Then Bishop of Troyes, becoming aware of this, and urged by many prudent persons to take action, as indeed was his duty in the exercise of his ordinary jurisdiction, set himself earnestly to work to fathom the truth of this matter. For many theologians and other wise persons declared that this could not be the real shroud of our Lord having the Savior’s likeness thus imprinted upon it, since the holy Gospel made no mention of any such imprint, while, if it had been true, it was quite unlikely that the holy Evangelists would have omitted to record it, or that the fact should have remained hidden until the present time. Eventually after diligent inquiry and examination, he discovered the fraud and how said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed. Accordingly, after taking mature counsel with wise theologians and men of law, seeing that he neither ought nor could allow the matter to pass, he began to institute formal proceedings against said Dean and his accomplices in order to root out this false presumption. They, seeing their wickedness discovered, his away the said cloth so that the Ordinary could not find it, and they kept it hidden afterwards for thirty-four years or thereabouts down to the present year. And now again the present Dean of the said church with fraudulent intent and for the purpose of gain, suggested as it is reported, to the Lord Geoffrey de Charny, Knight, and the temporal lord of the place, to have the said cloth replaced in the said church, that by a renewal of the pilgrimage the church might be enriched with the offerings made by the faithful. Acting upon the Dean’s suggestion, who was thus treading the footsteps of his predecessor, the knight went to the Cardinal de Thury, your Holiness’ Nuncio and Legate in the French territory, and suppressing the facts that the said cloth at the time above referred to was asserted to be the shroud of our Savior, and that it bore the Savior’s likeness imprinted upon it, and that the Ordinary had taken action against the canons in order to stamp out the error which had arisen, and that said cloth for fear of the Ordinary had been hidden away, nay even, it is said, conveyed out of the diocese, he represented to the Cardinal that the said cloth was a picture or figure of the shroud, which many people came to visit out of devotion and which had previously been much venerated and resorted to in that church, but on account of the war and other causes, by the command of the Ordinary, had been placed for a long time in safer keeping, petitioning that he might be allowed to set up in the said church this picture or figure of the shroud which so many out of devotion desired to see, so that it might there be shown to the people and venerated by the faithful. Then the said Lord Cardinal, without entirely approving the petition, but probably acting on the facts before him and so far prudently, granted to the petitioner by Apostolic authority that without asking leave of the Ordinary or of any other person he might set up this picture or figure of the shroud of our Lord in the said church or in any other decent place. And under cover of this written authority the cloth was openly exhibited and shown to the people in the church aforesaid on great holidays, and frequently on feasts and at other times, with the utmost solemnity, even more than when the Body of Christ our Lord is exposed; to wit, by two priests vested in albs with stoles and maniples and using the greatest possible reverence, with lighted torches and upon a lofty platform constructed for this special purpose; and although it is not publicly stated to be the true shroud of Christ, nevertheless this is given out and noised abroad in private, and so it is believed by many, the more so, because, as stated above, it was on a previous occasion declared to be the true shroud of Christ, and by a certain ingenious manner of speech it is now in the said church styled not the sudarium but the sanctuarium, which to the ears of the common folk, who are not keen to observe distinctions, sounds much the same thing, and crowds of people resort there as often as it is shown or is expected to be shown, under the belief, or more truly the delusion, that it is the true shroud. Moreover, it is currently reported amongst them that it has been approved by the Apostolic See by means of the letters of the said Lord Cardinal.

Accordingly, most holy Father, perceiving this great scandal renewed amongst the people and the delusion growing to the peril of souls, observing also that the Dean of the said church did not keep within the terms of the Cardinal’s letters, obtained though they were by the suppression of the truth and the suggestion of what was false, as already explained, desiring to meet the danger as well as I could and to root out this false persuasion from the flock committed to me, after consultation with many prudent advisers, I prohibited the said Dean under pain of excommunication, by the very act sufficiently published [eo ipso latae], from exhibiting this cloth to the people until otherwise might be determined.

He, however, refusing obedience and lodging an appeal, in defiance of the prohibition went on with the exhibition as before. Moreover, the knight, maintaining and defending his behavior, by holding the said cloth with his own hands on a certain solemn feast, and showing it to the people with the observances above described, caused himself, by a royal warrant [salvagardia], to be put in formal possession and occupation of the said cloth and of the right of exhibiting it, and had this notified to me; and so under cover of the appeal as well as of the said royal warrant this delusion is shielded and propagated, to the contempt of the Church, scandal of the people, and peril of souls – all which I am powerless to remedy – nay more to defamation of my above-named predecessor who denounced the abuse in this time, and of myself who to the best of my poor ability am also anxious to take such prudent as I may. But Alas! The scandal is upheld and defended and its supporters cause it to be spread abroad among the people that I am acting through jealousy and cupidity and to obtain possession of the cloth for myself, just as similar reports were circulated before against my predecessor; while, on the other hand, others aver that I move too half-heartedly in the matter and that I make myself a laughing-stock by allowing the abuse to continue. But though I have earnestly and humbly cited the said knight and besought him that he would for a time suspend the exhibition of the said cloth until your Holiness could be consulted and should pronounce upon the matter, he paid no attention, or rather without my knowledge he had representations made to your Holiness in the same sense as those already made to the said Lord Cardinal, adding that I refused to defer to the said Cardinal’s letters, that I disregarded the appeal and went on launching inhibitions and sentences of excommunication against those who exhibited the cloth and against the people who came to venerate it. But with all deference to the author of representations, my action in thus proceeding against those who exhibited and venerated the cloth was in no wise derogatory to the said Lord Cardinal’s letters, obtained though they were surreptitiously. This authorization of his by no means conceded that the cloth could be exposed with publicity or venerated, but only that it might be restored to or lodged in the said church or some other decent place. And because they would not keep to the terms of the Cardinal’s permit therefore it was that I proceeded against them according to the ordinary forms of law, as in my duty I am bound, and not without much asking counsel, with the view of removing the scandal and the said popular delusion, believing that I should be gravely in fault if I connived at such abuses. Moreover, having to look to my own security in this matter, I was compelled, acting always upon the advice of prudent counselors, to have recourse to the aid of the secular arm, and this being more particularly because the said knight in the first instance had begun to place the matter in the hands of the civil authorities by causing himself to put in formal possession of the right of exhibiting the cloth by the King’s warrant, as said above, which seems a sufficiently absurd proceeding. Accordingly I took measures to have the cloth placed in the custody of the King’s officers, always with the same end in view, viz., that at least until I could bring the whole story to the notice of your Holiness there might for a time being be an end of these exhibitions. And in this request I prevailed without any difficulty with the court of the King’s Parliament when once they were fully informed of the superstitious origin of this shroud, of the use to which it was put, and of the delusion and scandal to which I have called attention. Indeed it is a wonder to all who know the facts of the case that the opposition which hampers me in these proceedings comes from the church, from which quarter I should have looked for the vigorous support, nay, rather have expected punishment if I had shown myself slothful or remiss. However, the knight above mentioned has been beforehand with me, and, having represented the matter as I have explained, has obtained from your Holiness a Brief in which the said Lord Cardinal’s letters are substantially confirmed ex certa scientia and permission is granted that in spite of all prohibitions and appeals, the said cloth my be shown and exposed for the veneration of the faithful; while, as I hear – for I have not been able to procure a copy of said Brief – perpetual silence is enjoined upon myself.

But whereas the canon law requires me to see that no man be imposed upon by false representations and documents for the purposes of gain, and because I am certain that this Brief was obtained by suggestion of what is false and suppression of the truth, and that otherwise it would never have been issued, while I was neither cited nor heard, especially as a the resumption ought to stand in my favor that I would not interfere in such a cause without reason, or disturb any man in any practice of devotion which was harmless and free from extravagance, I do most confidently trust that your Holiness will bear with me if in view of the foregoing facts I still oppose the said exposition until I have fuller instructions from your Holiness yourself, now better informed of the truth of the case. I would ask you then, most blessed Father, to vouchsafe to bestow your attention upon the foregoing statement and to take measures that such a scandal and delusion and abominable superstition may be put and end to both in fact and seeming, in such wise that this cloth be held neither for sudarium nor sanctuarium, nor for an image or figure of our Lord’s sudarium, since our Lord’s sudarium was nothing of the kind, nor, in fine, under any other ingenious pretext be exhibited to the people or exposed for veneration, but that to express horror of such superstition it be publicly condemned, the surreptitious letters above spoken of being recalled, or more truly declared null and void (for fear that the keen-eyed persecutors and detractors of the Church should rail at the Church’s discipline and say that a more prompt and efficacious remedy against scandals and impostures is found in the secular tribunals than in those of ecclesiastical authority). I offer myself here as ready to supply all information sufficient to remove any doubt concerning the facts alleged both from public report and otherwise, in order to exonerate myself and also to discharge my conscience in a matter which I have greatly at heart. Moreover, if health had allowed I should have presented myself personally to your Holiness to state my complaint to the best of my poor ability, for I am convinced that I cannot fully or sufficiently express in writing the grievous nature of the scandal, the contempt brought upon the Church and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and the danger to souls; still I do what I can, chiefly that I can, chiefly that I may be guiltless before God, leaving all else to the disposition of your Holiness, whom may the Almighty long preserve, &c.
Pierre D’Arcis
Bishop of Troyes3

Front image from the Shroud of Turin

On January 6, 1390, Clement VII replied to D’Arcis’ letter. The Exhibition could continue so long as it was always declared that the shroud was a figure or representation of Christ’s shroud not the real deal. D’Arcis was told be keep quiet about the whole thing under pain of excommunication. Letters to other Bishops near Troyes instructed them to enforce the above decisions. Pierre D’Arcis died in 1395.4

The key sections in the above letter related to the issue of forgery are as follows:

Some time since in this diocese of Troyes the Dean of a certain collegiate church to wit, that of Lirey, falsely and deceitfully, being consumed with the passion of avarice, and not from any motive of devotion but only of gain, procured for his church a certain cloth cunningly painted, upon which by a clever sleight of hand was depicted the twofold image of one man, that is to say, the back and front, he falsely declaring and pretending that this was the actual shroud in which our Savior Jesus Christ was enfolded in the tomb and upon which the whole likeness of the Savior had remained thus impressed together with the wounds which He bore.

Eventually after diligent inquiry and examination, he discovered the fraud and how said cloth had been cunningly painted, the truth being attested by the artist who had painted it, to wit, that it was a work of human skill and not miraculously wrought or bestowed.

Thus the Shroud of Turin enters history as a self confessed fraud.

The carbon 14 results which place the creation of the shroud in the mid 14th century match the statements in the letter about the fabrication of the shroud very well. In fact so well that both pieces of evidence reinforce each other.

Faced with the above the onus is on the shroud gawkers not the sceptics to prove their case.

I will not go into the endless debate and throwing sand in your face antics of the shroud gawkers, all designed to to disguise the perfectly reasonable conclusion that the shroud is a fake. Neither will I go into the various shoddy “documentaries” that appear from time to time on TV that gawk at the shroud and manage to shoddily suppress mention of the letter and the carbon 14 results.5

Of course the main problem with the shroud image as can be seen from the photos used in this post are that the image looks like a painting. If it was actually the image of Jesus of Nazareth “burnt”? onto the shroud by the Resurrection event then the image would be distorted. It is not. It looks painted on. Just wrap any thing in a cloth and gradually unfold it you will see that the image resulting on the cloth will be and must be distorted.

That people continue to gawk at the Shroud of Turin is a sad testement to our times.

1. McCrone, Walter, Judgement Day for the Shroud of Turin, Prometheus Books, Amherst NY, 1999, pp. 245-251, Nickell, Joe, Inquest on the Shroud of Turin, Prometheus Books, Amherst NY, 1998, pp. 150-151.

2. Nickell, 1998, pp. 11-21, McCrone, pp. 1-2, 117-118, Sox, H. David, The Image on the Shroud, Unwin Paperbacks, Boston, 1981, pp. 2-3.

3. The Holy Shroud and the Verdict of History, Translated by Rev. Herbert Thurston, The Month, v. 101, 1903, pp. 17-29 as quoted in Sox, pp.148-152. I put the whole letter here to make it available on the web.

4. Sox, pp. 2-3.

5. The books listed in the notes are a good beginning to do real research on the shroud. I should mention the supposed find of Middle Eastern pollen on the shroud as another example of shroud gawking. The allege pollen find is shall we say like the shroud itself likely fraudulent. See Nickell, Joe, Pollens on the “Shroud”: A Study in Deception, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 18, No. 4, Summer 1994, pp. 379-385.

Pierre Cloutier

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mayan Timeline
25,000 B.C.E.. – Present
(B.C.E. is Before Common Era, C.E. is Common Era)

c. 25000 B.C.E.- Ancestors of the American Indians, the first Human’s in the new World, enter the Americas by crossing the Bering Strait.

c. 7000 B.C.E.- Beginning of the process of domesticating Maize, ("Corn"). In Mexico. This process would be very slow.

c. 5000 B.C.E.- First clear signs of settled village life. Beginning of the domestication of squashes, beans, tomatoes etc., in Mexico.

c. 4000 B.C.E.- First appearance of villages in Mayan area.

C. 3000 B.C.E.- Ancestors of the Maya settle in Yucatan and Guatemala.

c. 2000 B.C.E.- Temple structures begin to be built in Mexico and Olmec area. Mayan village culture established. Domestication process of Maize, ("Corn"), complete.

c. 1600 B.C.E.- Emergence of Olmec civilization on Gulf coast of Mexico.

c. 1400 B.C.E.- Establishment of San Lorenzo in Olmec heartland. First Temple structures in Mayan area.

c. 1200 B.C.E.- San Lorenzo abandoned La Venta established beginning of Olmec golden age.

c. 1200 - 600 B.C.E.Climax of Olmec golden age. Monumental sculpture, art, Architecture.

c. 1200 - 200 B.C.E.Olmec influence on Maya pervasive and long lasting.

c. 900 B.C.E.-Wealthy tombs in Copan region.

c. 600 B.C.E.-Tikal settled.

c. 600 B.C.E.-Fall of La Venta. Beginning of Olmec decline.

c. 600-200 B.C.E.-Terminal Olmec period. Development of Writing, calendar and mathematical, dating system.

c.400-200 B.C.E.-Establishment and growth of El Mirador and other sites. First signs of Kingship.

c.200 B.C.E.-Izapa monuments with Glyphs and indecipherable dates are erected. Earliest depictions of Popol Vuh mythology.

c. 100 B.C.E.-1. C.E.-Writing appears in Mayan area. Climax of late pre-classic. (300 B.C.E.-100 C.E.). Massive monumental building at El Mirador and other sites.

36 B.C.E.-First date (Olmec Region).

c. 50 C.E.-Massive construction at Tikal (Mutul) and other sites.

c. 90 C.E.-Foundation of Dynasty of Tikal (Mutul) by Yax-Moch-Xoc.

c. 100 C.E.-El Mirador and other sites abandoned.

100 C.E.-600 C.E.-Early Classic

100 C.E.-Earliest object with a date in the Mayan region.

160 C.E.-Kingdom of Copan established.

c. 200 C.E.-Kalak’mul (Kan) established.

c. 200 C.E.-Building of Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan (Pul).

Mayan Glyph

359 C.E.-Yoaat B'alam I establishes Dynasty of Yaxchilan.

378 C.E.-Tikal (Mutul) conquers Uaxactun.

378 C.E.-Siyaj K'ak', apparently from Teotihuacan (Pul) kills? Chak Tok Ich'aak I of Tikal (Mutul) and installs Yax Nuun Ayiin I as king of Mutul. This whole episode is very mysterious, especially since the new king and his successors continue to claim Chak Tok Ich'aak I as an ancestor and trace themselves back to Yax-Moch-Xoc the Dynasty Founder.

300-500 C.E.-Significant Teotihuacan (Pul) influence on Tikal (Mutul)

426 C.E-Yax-Kuk-Mo’, apparently from Teotihuacan (Pul), or Tikal (Mutul), establishes Dynasty at Copan.

431 C.E.-Kuk-B’alam I, maybe from Tikal (Mutul) or Teotihuacan (Pul), establishes Dynasty of Palenque (Lakam-Ha).

475 C.E.-Kan-Ax rules at Tikal (Mutul).

514 C.E.-North Acropolis built at Tikal (Mutul).

c. 520-540 C.E.-First signs of Tikal (Mutul) / Kalak’mul (Kan) rivalry.

553 C.E.-"Double Bird" King of Tikal establishes Yahaw-Ye as King of Caracol. Shortly thereafter Yahaw-Ye allies himself with Kalak’mul (Kan).

556 C.E.-Tikal (Mutul) sacks Caracol.

562 C.E.-Caracol, allied with Kalak’mul (Kan), defeats Tikal (Mutul) and sacks city. Captures and sacrifices King "Double Bird" as well. Tikal encircled by allies of Kalak’mul.

c.560-690 C.E.-The Hiatus at Tikal and allied sites. Construction and monumental building stops, and no dated monuments for almost 140 years at Tikal (Mutul).

599 C.E.-Yahaw-Ye of Caracol dies is succeeded by his eldest son.

600-900 C.E.-Late Classic

Mayan Inscription

603 C.E.-Pacal (I) born.

615 C.E.-Pacal (I) crowned King of Palenque (Lakam-Ha).

618 C.E.-Kan II younger son of Yahaw-Ye becomes King of Caracol.

619 C.E.-Kan II reaffirms alliance between Caracol and Kalak’mul (Kan).

625 C.E.-Balah-Kan K’awil from Tikal (Mutul) becomes King of Dos Pilas. Shortly afterwards he allies with Kalak’mul (Kan).

630 C.E.-Caracol wars with Naranjo an ally of Tikal (Mutul).

636 C.E.-Caracol defeats and conquers Naranjo. And in 642 C.E. dedicates a victor’s stairway at Naranjo.

c. 650-700 C.E.-Teotihuacan (Pul) sacked and destroyed. Site of Chichen Itza is found during this time.

657 C.E.-Nun-Bak-Chak of Tikal, (Mutul) driven into exile.

659 C.E.-Nun-Bak-Chak visits Palenque (Lakam-Ha).

c. 664 C.E.-Nun-Bak-Chak returns to Tikal (Mutul).

672 C.E.-Nun-Bak-Chak takes Dos Pilas forcing Balah-Kan K’awil into exile.

677 C.E.-Balah-Kan K’awil and Yukun-Kun of Kalak’mul (Kan) retake Dos Pilas from Tikal (Mutul).

679 C.E.-Balah-Kan K’awil captures and sacrifices Nun-Bak-Chak of Tikal (Mutul).

682 C.E.-Ah-Cacaw of Tikal (Mutul) accedes as King. Wac-Chanil-Ahau daughter of Balah-Kan K’awil of Dos Pilas arrives in Naranjo to re-establish Royal line.

683 C.E.-Pacal (I) of Palenque (Lakam-Ha) dies.

Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque

686 C.E.-Ich’ak-K’ak of Kalak’mul (Kan) accedes Balah-Kan K’awil of Dos Pilas, attends ceremony.

690 C.E.-Ah-Cacaw of Tikal (Mutul) erects first dated monuments at Tikal in over a century and builds first Pyramid complex.

693 C.E.-K’ak-Tiliw son of Wac-Chanil-Ahau accedes as King of Naranjo. For the next 10 years Naranjo wars with Tikal (Mutul) and her allies.

695 C.E.-Ah-Cacaw of Tikal (Mutul) captures and sacrifices Ich’ak-K’ak of Kalak’mul (Kan). The encirclement by Kalak’mul (Kan) of Tikal (Mutul) is broken. The next 50 years are the height of Tikal’s power and prestige. Ah-Cacaw celebrates by a massive program of building and art.

695 C.E.-Waxaklahun-Ubah-K’awil of Copan accedes to throne.

700-800 C.E.-Climax of Mayan civilization.

709 C.E.-Beginning of prolonged succession crisis at Yaxchilan. Itzamnaaj B'alam II begins to try to arrange succession of son Yaxun Balam IV.

c. 710-730 C.E.-The Itza, allies of Tikal (Mutul) found city of Chichen Itza.

710-711 C.E.-K’ak-Tiliw of Naranjo after switching sides attacks enemies of Tikal.

711 C.E.-Ah-Cacaw erects spectacular Pyramids 4 and 5 at Tikal (Mutul).

715 C.E.-Waxaklahun-Ubah-K’awil of Copan celebrates his 20th anniversary and builds Temple 22.

723-726 C.E.-Continuation of succession crisis at Yaxchilan. Itzamnaaj B'alam II involves his chief wife Lady Xoc in various rites supposably designed to disinherit her sons in favour of his son Yaxun Balam IV.

725 C.E.-Waxaklahun-Ubah-K’awil of Copan arranges accession of K’ak-Tiliw as King of Quirigua.

734 C.E.-Yik’in-Kan-K’awil becomes King of Tikal (Mutul).

736 C.E.-K’ak-Tiliw of Quirigua is visited by a "Lord" of Kalak’mul. Quirigua becomes an ally of Kalak’mul (Kan) about this time. Copan remains an ally of Tikal (Mutul).

738 C.E.-K’ak-Tiliw of Quirigua captures and sacrifices Waxaklahun-Ubah-K’awil of Copan.

c. 740 C.E.-K'ak' Yipyaj Chan K'awiil of Copan marries a "Lady of Lakam-Ha", (Palenque).

742 C.E.-Itzamnaaj B'alam II of Yaxchilan dies beginning of acute succession crisis. Yaxun Balam IV begins complex campaign to succeed his father.

743 C.E.-Yik’in-Kan-K’awil of Tikal (Mutul) defeats El Peru.

744 C.E.-Yik-Kan-K’awil attacks Naranjo, which as once again changed sides and captures and sacrifices its King Yax-Hix-Ek’-Way.

c. 745 C.E.-Yoaat B'alam II becomes King of Yaxchilan. He probably a son of Lady Xoc and Itzamnaaj B'alam II. The succession struggle with Yaxun Balam IV continues.

749 C.E.-Lady Xoc of Yaxchilan dies.

c. 750 C.E.-Ah-Kuy-Tok becomes King of Uxmal.

752 C.E.-Yaxun Balam IV of Yaxchilan accedes to throne of Yaxchilan.

761 C.E.-Alliance against Dos Pilas lead by Tikal (Mutul) takes Dos Pilas. Surviving members of Royal family flee to Aguateca.

763 C.E.-Yax-Pac of Copan the son of "Lady of Lakam-Ha" (Palenque) accedes to throne.

768 C.E.-Yax-Ain of Tikal (Mutul) accedes to throne. Yax-Pac of Copan begins massive building project including Hieroglyphic stairway.

c. 770 C.E.-Local inhabitants of Dos Pilas area fortify city centre. Effort fails and city falls and is sacked soon after.

775 C.E.-Yax-Pac dedicates Alter Q at Copan.

783 C.E.-Yax-Pac of Copan celebrates his 20th anniversary and erects Temple 22a.

790 C.E.-Last date at Aguateca and Pomona.

791 C.E.-Chaan-Muan of Bonampak celebrates ceremonies designating his eldest son has his heir. Shortly after Bonampak Murals are painted.

793 C.E.-Yax-Pac of Copan celebrates his 30th anniversary. Last date at Yaxha.

795 C.E.-Last date at Bonampak which is sacked and abandoned soon after. Yax-Pac erects another Alter in Temple 22a.

799 C.E.-Kimi-Pacal accedes to throne of Palenque (Lakam-Ha). Last date at Palenque, city abandoned soon after.

800-900 C.E.-The Collapse. Most of the cities of the Maya are abandoned during this time period.

c. 800 C.E.-Chichen Itza ally of Tikal (Mutul) starts a long war with Coba who is allied with Kalak’mul (Kan).

802 C.E-Yax-Pac of Copan celebrates his 40th anniversary. And completes Temple 18.

807 C.E.-Last date at La Amelia.

808 C.E.-Last Date at Yaxchilan.

810 C.E.-Yax-Pac visits Quirigua, now an ally.
Last date at Piedras Negras.
Last Date at Kalak’mul.
Last date at Naranjo.
Last date at Quirigua.

c. 820 C.E.-Yax-Pac dies at Copan. End of his dynasty.

822 C.E.-Last date at Copan. Attempt by U-Cit-Tok of Copan to establish dynasty fails.

830 C.E.-Wat’ul establishes himself as King of Seibal.

841 C.E.-Last date Machaquila.

849 C.E.-Wat’ul of Seibal builds Temple A-3.
Last date at Alter de Sacrificios.
Last date at Xunantunich.
Last date at Ucanal.
High Priests Grave dedicated at Chichen Itza.

859 C.E.-Last date at Caracol.

869 C.E.-Last date at Tikal (Mutul).
Ball court dedicated at Chichen Itza .
By this time Coba has been defeated and largely abandoned.

879 C.E.-Monuments dedicated at Jimbal, Sacchana.
Last date at Ixlu.

Mayan Inscription

889 C.E.-Last date at La Muneca.
Last date at Xultun.
Last date Uaxactun.
Last date Jimbal.
Last date at Seibal.
At Chichen Itza a large number of Monuments are dedicated.

898 C.E.-Last date at Chichen Itza.

900 C.E.-By this time most of the Mayan cities have been abandoned. The end dates listed above only record a few of the end dates.

900-1500 C.E.-Post Classic.

901 C.E.-Chan-Chak-K’ak’nal-Ahau dedicates Ball court at Uxmal.

c. 905-910 C.E.-Chan-Chak-K’ak’nal-Ahau builds Nunnary Quadrangle, and Palace of the Govenors at Uxmal.

909 C.E.-Last date at Tonina , also last Long Count date.

948 C.E.-Chichen Itza abandoned by the Itza for first time. Itza establish kingdom of Chak’anputun.

c. 975-1050 C.E.-Alleged Toltec invasions of Yucatan and Guatemala and establishment of Mexican-Mayan ruling Dynasties. Note this event probably never happened.

c. 1000-1100 C.E.-Chichen Itza reoccupied.

1150 C.E.-Establishment of Mayapan

1185 C.E.-Itza leave Chak’anputun.

Portrait of Mayan King

1194 C.E.-Hunak-Kel conspiracy at Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza abandoned soon after.

c. 1200 C.E.-Establishment of League of Mayapan. About the same time Tayasal in lake Petan is established.

1224 C.E.-Itza take Itzamal and attack Mayapan.

1263 C.E.-Itza attack and defeat Mayapan. They establish new confederacy, based in Mayapan the Itza call themselves Maya.

1382 C.E.-Mayapan abandoned by the Itza.

c. 1380-1420 C.E.-Vicious internal fighting in Mayapan between various factions. The Tutul-Xiw leave Mayapan.

1441 C.E.-Mayapan abandoned and sacked. Yucatan disintegrates into vicious intercity warfare for the next 70+ years.

c. 1470 C.E.-Quiche of Guatemala begin creation of Empire in Guatemala.

c. 1485 C.E.-The Kaqchikals separate from the Quiche and establish a rival Empire. Next 40+ years characterized by vicious fighting between the two rivals.

1492 C.E.-Columbus sails to the West Indies and back to Spain.

1493 C.E.-First European settlement on island of Hispanola. Conquest of island by Spain 1493-1498.

1500-2000 C.E.-The Modern age

c. 1500-First of series of devastating epidemics of Old World diseases ravages the Maya.

c. 1500-1620 C.E.-Disease, Warfare and ruthless Spanish exploitation reduces Mayan numbers by at least 80-90% and possibly 95%.

1502 C.E.-Columbus encounters a Mayan merchant off Honduras during fourth voyage.

1517 C.E.-Spanish land at Chak’anputun and are driven out.

1518 C.E.-Spanish sack Chak’anputun.

1519 C.E.-Cortes lands at Cozumel island and meets Dona Maria, (Malinche), his chief interpreter and aide during the conquest of the Aztec Empire.

1519-1521 C.E.-Cortes conquers the Aztec Empire.

1523 C.E.-Alvarado, Lieutenant to Cortes, invades Guatemala.

1524 C.E.-Alvarado defeats and kills Quiche King. Sacks Quiche capital and at a mass burning kills more than 300 Quiche nobles. Kaqchikels begin war with the Spanish.

1525 C.E.-Cortes, visiting Honduras, travels through the Petan and visits Tayasal capital of the Itza.

1527 C.E.-Spanish invade Yucatan under the leadership of Montejo. For the next 7 years the Spanish try to conquer Yucatan.

1530 C.E.-After 6 years of vicious warfare the Kaqchikels submit to Alvarado. Resistance continues for another 10 years in Guatemala.

1534 C.E.-Montejo and his forces are driven out of Yucatan.

1540 C.E.-Last resistance in Guatemala ends. Alvarado massacres Kaqchikels leadership and many others.

1541 C.E.-Alvarado dies. Montejo Junior, invades Yucatan. Defeats the Local Mayan rulers.

Pages from the Dresden Codex

1542 C.E.-Spanish establish Merida on ruins of Tiho. Western part of Yucatan occupied by Spanish.

1546 C.E.-Massive Mayan rebellion in Yucatan crushed.

c. 1540-1600 C.E.-Christianization of the Maya. Massive destruction of Mayan Temples, Art etc., by the Spanish. Systematic attack on Mayan learning and lore. Almost compete obliteration of Mayan Books.

c. 1550 C.E.-Mayan Priests begin to copy out the books of Chilam Balam. (books of the Jaguar Priests). They will prove to be invaluable and would be added to well into the twentieth century.

1562 C.E.-Bishop Landa of Yucatan climaxes his drive against "idolatry" by burning thousands of Mayan books in a public square at Mani. Also many Mayan Priests etc., fall victim to his drive.

1565-1570 C.E.-Bishop Landa while in Spain writes his Relacion de las coscas de Yucatan. An absolutely priceless source on the Maya.

c. 1570 C.E.-A Mayan Nobleman copies from a Mayan Hieroglyphic manuscript the Popol Vuh into Mayan using the Roman alphabet. Later He or someone else copies it out into Spanish.

Knowledge of the Hieroglyphs fades until they no longer can be read.

c.1550-1650 C.E.-Establishment of a Spanish ruling class over a en-serfed Mayan peasantry. Virtual disappearance of Mayan ruling class.

c. 1650 C.E.-Copy of Relacion de las coscas de Yucatan by Bishop Landa made by Government officials in Spain. It is unfortunately a condensed version. The original is lost or destroyed.

1600-1690 C.E.-Continual efforts to conquer Itza Kingdom of Tayasal and border warfare with it. All Spanish efforts fail.

1697 C.E.-The Spanish take Tayasal last independent city of the Maya and sack city. Last library of hieroglyphic books vanishes along with last readers/writers of Glyphs.

1697-1720 C.E.-Resistance continues in the kingdom of Tayasal but is crushed.

1650-1820 C.E.-The Maya cling with remarkable stubbornness to the remnants of their culture. Mayan population begins to recover.

1773 C.E.-Palenque rediscovered.

Head of Pacal King of Palenque

1810 C.E.-Mexican War of independence starts.

1820 C.E.-Mexico becomes independent.

1825 C.E.-Establishment of Guatemala.

1841 C.E.-Stephens and Catherwood publish their Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. Beginning of modern Mayan studies.During the same decade Brasseur de Bourboug, a French Scientist finds Bishop Landa’s Relacion..., in a Spanish archive, and in Guatemala he finds the Popol Vuh.

1847-1855 C.E.-War of the Castes in Yucatan. Mayans rise against the Mexicans. Rebellion ends in bloody stalemate. Large areas of Yucatan and neighbouring provinces outside of Mexican control.

1850-1900 C.E.-First efforts to decipher the Glyphs. All efforts fail miserably except with the calendar portion of them.

1850 C.E.-The Founding of Chan Santa Cruz. "The Speaking Cross" and the state of Cruzob.

c. 1860-1900 C.E.-Attempted "Europenization of Guatemala".

1877-1910 C.E.-Dictatorship of Portifo Diaz in Mexico. 1901 C.E.-After many attempts the Mexican government finally conquers the state of Cruzob.

Mayan Number 20

1910-1920 C.E.-Mexican Revolution.

1944 C.E.-Revolution in Guatemala.

1952 C.E.-Knorozov publishes his Ancient Writing of Central America. The beginning of the decipherment of the Glyphs. Ruz finds Pacal’s tomb in the Temple of Inscriptions.

1954 C.E.-A C.I.A. sponsored, lead, paid for coup in Guatemala. For the next 40 years Guatemala would be ruled by a ruthless military oligarchy that will be virulently anti-Mayan at times.

1973 C.E.-First Palenque Round Table. Rediscovery of Pacal of Palenque. 1970-1985 is the breakthrough period in deciphering the Glyphs.

1978-1990 C.E.-Bloody war in Guatemala between guerrillas and military government.

1980-1982 C.E.-Dictatorship of Rios more than 140,000 Mayan Indians are massacred. Government targets Mayan Shaman and Priests for killing.

1988-1990 C.E.-The Deciphers begin to teach Modern Maya how to read the Glyphs.

1992 C.E.-Rigoberta Menchu , a Mayan Indian women is awarded the Noble Peace Prize.

Rigoberto Menchu

1996 C.E.-Peace in Guatemala. Beginning of a Mayan revival?

Mayan Family


Von Hagen, Victor W., World of the Maya, Mentor Books, New York, 1960.

Schele, Linda & Mathews, Peter, The Code of Kings, Touchstone Books, New York, 1998.

Schele, Linda & Freidel, David, A Forest of Kings, William Morrow Company Inc., New York, 1990.

Coe, Michael D., The Maya, (6th Ed.), Thames & Hudson, London, 1998.

Jones, Grant D., The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1998.

Denevan, William M. Editor, The Native Population of the Americas in 1492, (2nd Ed.), University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1992.

Thomas, Hugh, Conquest, Touchstone Books, New York, 1993.

Martin, Simon & Grube, Nikolai, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens, Second Edition, Thames and Hudson, London, 2008.

Stuart, David & Stuart, George, Palenque, Thames and Hudson, London, 2008.

Webster, David, The Fall of the Ancient Maya, Thames and Hudson, London, 2002.

Dumond, Don E., The Machete and the Cross, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1997.

Reed, Nelson A., The Caste War of Yucatan, Revised Edition, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2001.

Menchu, Rigoberta & Burgos–Debray, Elisabeth, I Rigoberta Menchu, Verso, London, 1984.

Clendinnen, Inga, Ambivalent Conquests, Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003.

Commission of Historical Clarification, Guatemala: Memory of Silence, at Here.

Demarest, Arthur, Ancient Maya, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004.

Sharer, Robert J. & Traxler, Loa P., The Ancient Maya, Sixth Edition, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2006.

De Landa, Diego, Yucatan Before and After The Conquest, Dover Publications Inc., New York, 1978.

Falla, Ricardo, Quiche Rebelde, University of Texas Press, Austin, 2001.

Foster, Lynn V., Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002.

McKillop, Heather, The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2006.

Pierre Cloutier

The Bourgeois of Paris and his Journal

Part of Paris Mid 15th Century

In the latter half of the Hundred Years War a citizen of Paris called the Bourgeois of Paris wrote a Journal of things that he considered to be of interest to him. He apparently wrote out, a few times a year, in his journal such things as current events, the price of various foodstuffs, and what he thought were interesting local happenings. The journal covers the years 1405 – 1449 C.E.1

The writer who is called the Bourgeois simply because he was a resident of Paris, tells us virtually nothing about himself and in fact only speaks in the first person a few times in the Journal.2 So sadly he remains anonymous. There have been various attempts to identify him but the most that can be said is that he was likely associated with the University of Paris and probably in lower clerical orders, perhaps a Deacon. Also from his descriptions of his times and the cost of goods and food, he was probably middle class and most of the time was able to get by. It is also likely that he owned his own house.3 Aside from the above there is little that we can say about him in respect to his position and / or name. About his personality that is a different matter.

France at the time was being torn about by the scourge of internal discord, climaxing in civil war and foreign invasion by the English in the latter part of the Hundred Years War, (1337 – 1453 C.E.). This journal is a record of what it was like to live as a more or less “ordinary” citizen in what was one of the epicentres of violence and discord during the latter part of the Hundred Years War.4

In 1380 C.E. Charles VI had become King of France at a time when the tide had turned against England in the Hundred Years War and a more or less uneasy peace broken by bouts of fighting had settled between England and France. In 1377 the young Richard II had become King of England, the reign of two young kings at the same time had fed the need for peace.5

Unfortunately in 1399 C.E. Richard II was overthrown and later murdered by Henry IV, and he was from the party interested in restarting the war. But in France far worst developments happened. Charles VI started going mad intermittently. This not only created instability in the center it also created two antagonistic parties.6

The parties were the Orleanists (later Armagnacs) party and the Burgundians. The Orleanists were led at first by Louis Duke of Orleans and later by the Count of Armagnac. The Burgundians were led by the various Dukes. First Jean sans Peur (the fearless) and then Philippe le Bon (the good), of Burgundy. At first it was mere intriguing for position / power; during the periods that Charles VI was sane Louis would dominate and during the period Charles VI was insane Burgundy would dominate. It however escalated. In 1407 C.E., Jean Duke of Burgundy had Louis assassinated. Jean was able to get a royal pardon but things got worst with tit for tat massacres by each party of members of the other party including some horrible ones in Paris.7

Jean sans Peur Duke of Burgundy

Soon France was divided and fighting broke out and the English took advantage of the opportunity to invade and angle for a payoff in return for supporting one side or the other. In 1415 C.E., occurred the battle of Agincourt and Henry V of England’s great victory. The various French factions continued fighting until the fall of 1419 when Henry V had succeeded in conquering most of Normandy and was not to far from Paris. Finally an attempt was made to patch up the quarrel and present a united front. A meeting was arranged at the bridge of Montereau between the Armagnacs and the Burgundians with the Dauphin Charles (the heir to the French throne) and Jean Duke of Burgundy. Seeking to avenge the murder of Louis Duke of Orleans the Armagnac party assassinated Jean. Very quickly Philip, Jean’s son, the new Duke of Burgundy allied himself with the English and brought all the towns controlled by the Burgundians, (which included Paris) to accept English rule and to accept as Charles VI's heir Henry V of England. The Dauphin Charles and his supporters who included the Armagnac party refused to accept this and continued fighting.8 Such is the background to the Journal.

It is important to remember that the writer of the Journal was a convinced Burgundian and that this out look colours much that he writes. Still his Journal is an invaluable source.

It is of interest that certain passages of the journal are lost forever. This includes a rather fragmentary beginning which indicates that some material was lost and certain sections in main body of the Journal. The most important section lost is the section describing the murder of Jean Duke of Burgundy in 1419. It is suspected that the author may have expressed himself a little too freely about what he thought about the Dauphin Charles’ involvement in the murder and later decided for the sake of his own life to remove the passage.9

But perhaps the flavour of the book can be understood by quoting a few passages from the book.

For example in the year 1436 C.E. our author records regarding the price of cherries:

Cherries were very plentiful this year, so much so that they were selling at a pound for one penny tournais, or even six pounds for one fourpenny blanc parisis. They lasted till mid August Lady day.10

Regarding the weather there are reports like the following:

The heat at this time, towards the end of August, was tremendous, both day and night. Neither man nor women could get to sleep at night; also many people died of plague and of epidemic, young people and children especially.11

About important events our author as something to say. As I said our Author was a convinced Burgundian but even so he records the hideous massacres of Armagnac supporters that occurred in Paris when the Burgundians occupied the city ion 1418.12
Our author writes:
Then the goddess of Discord arose in the castle of Ill Counsel; she woke Anger the lunatic, Greed, Madness, and Revenge; they armed themselves and contemptuously cast Reason, Justice, Remembrance of God, and Moderation out from among them.

Then insane Madness, Murder and Slaughter slew, murdered, slaughtered, and killed everyone they could find in the prisons without mercy, justly or unjustly, with cause or without.

…the corpses were so cut and stabbed about the face that no one could tell who they were, except the Constable and the Chancellor; they were identified by the beds they were killed in.13

Regarding the Battle of Agincourt (1415 C.E.) our author says:

Never since God was born did anyone, Saracen or any others, do such destruction in France.14

Being a convinced Burgundian our author says this about Jeanne D’ Arc:

Such and worst were my lady Jeanne’s false errors. They were all declared to her in front of the people, who were horrified when they heard these great errors against our faith which she held and still did hold. For however clearly her great crimes and errors were shown to her, she never faltered or was ashamed, but replied boldly to All the articles like one wholly given over to Satan.15

Jeanne D'Arc

About Jeanne D’Arcs death our author says:

There were many people there and in other places who said that she was martyred and for her true lord. Others that she was not, and that he who had supported her so long had done wrong. Such things people said, but whatever good or whatever evil she did, she was burned that day.16

It is interesting to note that in our authors description of Charles VII’s coronation campaign, (in 1429 C.E.), although there is a description of the taking of towns and the assault on Paris in September of that year, there is no mention of Charles VII coronation at Rheims in July 1429.17 It can be speculated that the event was so shocking to his belief in the justice of his cause that he could not bear to record it.

Latter, 1440 C.E., a certain imposture named Claude des Armoises claimed to be Jeanne D’Arc our author records:

When she was near Paris this great mistake of believing her to be the Maid sprang up again, so that the University and the Parlement had her brought to Paris whether she liked it or not and shown to the people at the Palais on the marble slab in the great courtyard. There a sermon was preached about her and all her life and estate set forth. She was not a maid, he said, but had been married to a knight and borne him two sons.18
The change of fortune of his side along with the fact that our Author was never very enamoured or impressed with the English helped bring about a change of loyalties for the Author. Although he never talks about it explicitly the change seems to have been difficult for him.

Our Author’s description of the coronation of Henry VI of England as King of France in 1431 is as follows:

On the day after Christmas, St. Stephen’s day, the King left Paris without granting any of the benefits expected of him – release of prisoners, abolition of such evil taxes as imposts, salt taxes, fourths, and similar bad customs that are contrary to law and right. Not a soul, at home or abroad, was heard to speak a word in his praise – yet Paris had done more honour to him than to any king both when he arrived and at his consecration, considering, of course, how few people there were, how little money anyone could earn, that it was the very heart of winter, and all provisions desperately dear, especially wood.19

Another contrast is between his rather brief and laconic description of the death of Henry V of England,20 (In 1422 C.E.) and his description of the death of Charles VI of France.21

On the last day of August, a Sunday, Henry, King of England, and at the time Regent of France, died at Bois des Vincennes.

His [Charles VI] people and his servants were there; they mourned and lamented their loss, and so especially did the common people of Paris, calling out as he was carried through the streets, ‘Ah, dear prince, we shall never see you again, we shall never have one another so good! Accursed death! We shall never have peace now that you have left us. You go to your rest; we are left in all suffering and sorrow! The way we are going we shall soon be as wretched as the children of Israel when they were lead away into Babylon.’ Such were the things the people said, with said sighs and groans and lamentations.22

A contrast to the English view of Henry V.

In 1436 after the Burgundians changed sides Paris was retaken by the French. And much to the joy and frank disbelief of our Author the retaking of Paris was accompanied by surprisingly little mayhem or destruction or loss of life.

…but nobody, whatever his rank or his native language or whatever crimes he had committed against the King [Charles VII], nobody was killed for it.23

The English do not come off well in the Journal:

The people could not earn a farthing at any kind of work, for indeed, the English ruled Paris for a very long time, but I do honestly think that never anyone of them had any corn or oats sown or so much as a fireplace built in a house – except the Regent, the Duke of Bedford. [died September 1435] He was always building, wherever he was; his nature was quite un-English, for he never wanted to make war on anybody, whereas the English, essentially, are always wanting to make war on their neighbours without cause. That is why they all die an evil death; more than seventy-six thousand of them had by now died in France.24

John Duke of Bedford

Our Author complains about the heavy tax burden caused by the war:

First of all they levied a heavy tax on the clergy, then on the richer merchants, men and women. They paid four thousand francs, three thousand francs or two thousand francs, eight hundred or six hundred, each according to their estate. After that the less wealthy paid a hundred or sixty, fifty or forty; the very least paid between ten and twenty francs, none more than twenty and none less than ten. Others poorer still paid not more than hundred shillings parisis and not less than forty.25

The Author condemns the war throughout saying:

At that time the English would sometimes take one fortress from the Armagnacs in the morning and lose two in the evening. So this war, accursed of God continued.26

Through out the Journal our Author maintains a strong sympathy for the plight of the common man caught between armies and a distinct aversion to the nobility who our Author feels are not living up to their responsibilities.

After a brief description of the Taking Rouen [1449 C.E.] from the English and the celebrations in Paris of that event, the Journal ends. Whether the Author simply got tired of doing it or died is not known. Neither can we be sure if any pages have not been lost covering subsequent years. After all given the freedom with which the Author expresses himself for the time period it is perhaps remarkable that the Journal survived.

Whoever the Author was he left a remarkable and important document for future generations to read.

Map of Paris Mid 15th Century

1. Anonymous, A Parisian Journal: 1405 - 1449, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1968.

2. IBID. pp. 3-45.

3. IBID. pp. 12-24.

4. For the Hundred Years War see Starks, Michael, The Hundred Years War in France, Windrush Press, London, 2002, Burne, Alfred H., The Hundred Years War: A Military History, Penguin Books, London, 2002, Allmand, Christopher, The Hundred Years War, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989, Seward, Desmond, The Hundred Years War, Atheneum, New York, 1978, Perroy, Edouard, The Hundred Years War, Capricorn Books, New York, 1965.

5. See Seward, pp. 127-142, Perroy, pp. 178- 206, Allmand, p. 24-26.

6. IBID. and Seward, pp. 143-152, Perroy 219-234.

7. Anonymous, pp. 116-119, Perroy p. 241.

8. Perroy, 243-265, Seward, 181-188, Stark, pp. 135-139.

9. Anonymous, pp. 41, The gap is on p. 142.

10. IBID. p. 311.

11. IBID. p. 128.

12. IBID. pp. 111-119.

13. IBID. pp 116-117.

14. IBID. p. 96.

15. IBID. p. 263.

16. IBID. p. 264. For more information on Jeanne D’Arc see Warner, Marina, Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism, Penguin Books, London, 1981, Lucie-Smith, Edward, Joan of Arc, Penguin Books, London, 1976, Pernoud, Regine, & Clin, Marie – Veronique, Joan of Arc: Her Story, St. Martin Griffen, London, 1999.

17. Anonymous, pp. 238-243.

18. IBID. pp. 337. For more about Claude des Armoises see Pernoud et al, pp. 233-235, Warner, pp 191, 267-268.

19. IBID. p. 273.

20. IBID. p. 178. For a demolition of the idea of a “Romantic” Henry V and for why many Frenchmen may not be quite so impressed by him see Seward, Desmond, Henry V as Warlord, Penguin Books, London, 1987.

21. Anonymous, pp. 178-183.

22. IBID. p. 178, 180.

23. IBID. p. 306, Paris being retaken is pp. 300-307.

24. IBID. p. 307.

25. IBID. p. 317.

26. IBID. p. 191.

Pierre Cloutier