Thursday, June 18, 2009

archaeology rules

How does that line go?

"New York, New York/ so good they named it twice."

That is exactly how I feel about archaeology.

That is why I listed it as two separate factors:

  • archaeological sites within driving distance
  • central location for other archaeological sites

When I was in my teens, ancient civilizations fascinated me. Egypt. Babylonia. Greece. Rome.

I read whatever I could find. To this day, I remember an afternoon in 1964 when I first saw a photograph of "Ram in a Thicket" (pictured at the top of this post). I was hooked.

Other than a few courses, I did not followup on my love for archaeology until the summer of 1973 when I moved to Greece for a year.

For someone interested in archaeology, living in Greece was every bit as satisfying as an actor spending a year on Broadway. I visited the big sites. Some small sites. Helped on a dig. Went off searching on my own.

I then used those newly-developed skills during my two years in Great Britain. And saw the original Ram in the British Museum. It was almost as if I was reunited with a long-lost love.

If my archaeological background sounds Eurocentric. It is.

But, when I decided to move to Mexico, I knew I had hit the Indiana Jones jackpot. Troweling through new layers of old civilizations was enticement enough for me to head south.

Most people have a very limited knowledge of archaeological sites in Mexico. They know about the pyramid of the sun or the sites in Oxaca or the big sites on the Yucatan.

But those places are the Disneylands of archaeology. Big. Bombastic. Reconstructed. And as sterile as a maiden aunt's bathroom.

The west coast of Mexico offers some fascinating sites. Colima is a perfect example. But there are also petroglyphs and barrow tombs. Archaeology on a human scale.

Melaque meets half of the two factors. There are archaeological sites near to town. But it certainly is not central.

So, why have I not got out in the last two months to see the local sites?

We all know the answer. But, now that Jiggs is feeling better, I feel comfortable leaving him for a half-day at a time.

That will give me time to visit the sites around Colima -- a two-hour drive from here. I may need to make my visits in series.

Melaque gets high marks on the first factor, not so much on the second.

I have had this dream for 45 years. Now is the time to put it into practice.


Calypso said...

Again my area gets high marks on both counts - it's early but I am batting a 1000 ;-)

Islagringo said...

Having seen the majority of sites in the Yucatan, both big and small, I feel qualified to say that they are not as sterile as an aunt's bathroom. True, some are way overvisited and hyped. But others will leave you gasping for air. Remember, one of these sterile sites is now listed as one of the 8 new wonders of the world.

Christine said...

I also hope you have a chance to see the archeological museum in Mexico City, it is also breathtaking! Christine

Julian from SC said...

I agree with you that seeing these sites is an amazing adventure and being close to several would be a big plus to any permanent location.

I have been able to visit Lamanai (twice) and Altun Ha in Belize and they were among the high points of our trips.

Ah, but if you continue as you are now leaning -- and rent, not buy, then couldn't you plan to stay at optimum location for several of the requirements at a time? And then, of course, move to another site that has some of the other requirements better covered....

glorv1 said...

How exciting. When I watch excavatons on the History or PBS channels, I am transfixed. I look forward to reading your post on your visits. Now please be sure Mr. Jiggs has plenty of water and food before you leave on your mini trips and that he can't get out. Thank you very much. :) Take care and enjoy.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

I am seeing an Excel Spreadsheet with criteria down one side and places across top and ratings in each cell AND (bada bing) weighting on the specifc criteria applied to ratings!

ha - I could not resist - analysis geek that I am.

Archeology should get heavy weighting me thinks.

Todd said...

I also love ruins!
You could probably tell from how they tend to show up on my blog every couple of months.
I still have 3 more ruins to post!

While my son was here, we went to Teotihuacan, and it was very impressive, and will go back again and again. BUT....
The ruins in Michoacan or more magical in their own way.

They are not on tour bus route, they are not staked out by crowds of vendor chasing you through the ruins. That must be a tough way to make a living.

Quite often I am the only person there, or their might be one or two more. Its almost as if you were just out for a walk in the wilderness, and stumbled across them.

How is this for synchronicity, while the Patzcuaro museum was doing some work on their grounds, they found ruins, right in their back yard!

Wow, all this talk of ruins, now I think I will go see some right now!


Constantino said...

Don't for get to leave something buried behind for them to find when they are sifting through your old diggs in Melaque. Don't forget the required uniform...You would look good in khakis.

CancunCanuck said...

Another vote for this end of the country! While Chichen and Tulum may have a lot of tourists, doesn't make them any less valuable. And there are piles of lesser known sites here and in nearby Belize (another bonus, we're super close to Belize which offers it's own unique flavour!)

Here's a link to a friend's blog, it's in Spanish but he is a great photographer and a big lover of the ruins. He's got photos of some of the little known places down here. (You can run it through google translate for the details)

BruHof said...

I hate to be the one to tell you but the word on the streets of Gravelford is that your aunt wasn't really a maiden.... but that might not have been the point of the analogy. I glance over at "the big table" during the lunch hour and note your continued absence.

Anonymous said...

If you get down this way, on my property there are several platforms, places where the Maya built homes, and an unexcavated pyramid that you can climb. On some parts of the property it is difficult to take a step without stepping on an artifact.

By the way, the property next door is for sale and has half of the aforementioned pyramid on it. Kathe

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- An A on this one for you, and on both factors.

Islandgringo -- The jungle was a great preserver of many Mayan sites. Sure, it pulled some buildings apart, but it acted as a carpet to protect others. The Yucatan is certinly the center of the New Archaeology.

Christine -- It is Mecca for me. I just need to get there.

Julian -- Good point. If I follow through on my gypsy plan, I should be able to meet both factors.

Gloria -- When I start this part of my life, it will certainly end up on these pages.

AMM -- The last time I did this exercise, I wanted to paste an Excel chart into the post, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. I think I now know how. We will see where that takes me. Next stop: PowerPoint?

Todd -- A hummingbird got trapped in my bedroom this afternoon. Another sign that I should move to Patzcuaro?

Constantino -- I have the uniform. And the way I lose possessions, I am some future archaeologist's dream.

CancunCanuck -- Thanks for the link. A great resource for the future.

BruHof -- Strange. I have not seen you sitting at your table either. Perhaps we are suffering a spatial dislocation.

Kathe -- Where is this fascinating sounding venue? My email is gopjiggs at gmail dot com.

TenekTech said...

Hola Steve,
I want to share this video with you: Vive Mexico the composer of the concert Danzón no. 2 for orchestra in the videos is prominent Mexican composer Arturo Márquez. (from wikipedia) It is, along with José Pablo Moncayo's Huapango, Carlos Chávez's Sinfonia India and Silvestre Revueltas' Sensemaya, one of the most popular and significant frequently performed Mexican contemporary classical music compositions performed by orchestras.
I really hope that you find the good things of your staying in Melaque and that Jiggs gets better to allow you to explore the area and meet Mexican people and make Mexican friends

Steve Cotton said...

Tenektech -- Very nice piece. Too bad that orchestra is not playing just down the street in Melaque.