Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Mystery- Disappearance of the Mayans

One of the mysteries scholars have yet to crack is the disappearance of Mayans from the great city of Tikal in Guatemala around 900 A.D.

The Mayans were master mathematicians and worshiped time. They calculated 13 moons in a year and 28 days in a month. They left behind a calendar unsurpassed by any other people.They built great temples and huge civilizations. Yet no one has discovered why their numbers diminished and the city of Tikal slowly diminished.

Some believe the decline and deaths resulted in there being more people than they could provide for. Others believe it was attacks by other marauding groups and fighting among themselves, not to mention the constant need for sacrifice victims they felt were needed for the gods to keep the crops growing and the rains falling.

With all the research I did, there was no clear reason for their disappearance so I came up with a reason that could play into their belief in gods and sacrifice.

In my book, Secrets of a Mayan Moon, a genius doctor of anthropology reads the hieroglyphs in a spiritual chamber at a dig I made up and believes she's stumbled onto the reason for the Mayans decline. The problem? The man who brought her to Guatemala to help decipher the hieroglyphs plans to use her for his own gain.

Excerpt from Secrets of a Mayan Moon

There they were. The symbols she’d tried to figure out the other day. They represented the name of a woman. She stared across the compound, unseeing. The woman who was sacrificed. Isabella’s stomach churned. The sacrifice of the virgin made the moon god cry. What about this particular woman left sorrow rather than hope? For the sacrifices were gifts to the gods to bring good weather and crops.
Sadness for this woman wrapped around her heart. Clutching the book to her chest, Isabella returned to her tent and lay down. She needed to sleep. That had to be why this information caused her so much grief. She was tired.
But sleep eluded her. Her mind spun with the drawings, the sadness, and restlessness. Finally, unable to shake the images and unease, Isabella rose, crossed the compound, and entered the dig site. Something compelled her to read the glyphs and look at the carvings in the altar chamber once more.
The workers glanced up as she entered. Virgil eyed her and then the book clutched in her arms.
“What are you doing?” he asked, stepping forward.
“I need to see the carvings on the wall in the other chamber.” Without missing a step, she continued into the chamber. Virgil’s footsteps echoed behind her. Isabella placed the book, open to the pages she had read, on the sacrificial altar. She stepped to her left and studied the drawings on the wall with more interest than on the day before.
The story made more sense after connecting the urn, the glyphs she didn’t know, and then this artwork. It played out in her head as if she stood watching the event.
“What are you finding?” Virgil stood next to her.
Her skin grew cold and her heart raced with fear. He means you harm. He brings evil. A voice in her head warned. The voice and her reactions to Virgil were illogical, but her intelligence knew there were some things that couldn’t be explained. Like her drive to learn all she could about the native people of the Americas.
The urgent voice felt more a friend than Virgil at this moment. She shook her head. “Nothing. I thought I’d found something that connected, made sense of the stone and glyphs. I-I was wrong.”
His eyebrows rose and he stared at her. Doubt shimmered in his eyes. He didn’t believe her. And why should he? She walked in here—the dampness of her clothes registered as her mind divorced itself from the story. She’d walked into the dig wet from rain pouring outside. Rain she hadn’t even noticed until now. She’d been in a trance, induced by her knowledge that the pieces put together would give her answers.
A worker stuck his head into the chamber. “Señor, we leave for dinner.”
Virgil waved him away and took another step toward her. Instinct moved her feet back. His eyes widened then cloaked.
“Are you coming to dinner?” The tone wasn’t an invitation but more an accusation.
“No, I had a late lunch and want to remain here a while longer to see if I didn’t overlook something.” She didn’t really want to stay here alone, but she also didn’t want to be with Virgil. The whole trance-like episode, the voice, and her unease with a family friend left her unsure of anything at the moment. Least of all acting normal.
“If you tell me what you’re looking for, I could help. We are in this together.”
“That’s the crux. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it.” She offered a weak smile. “I think?”
Virgil studied her a moment longer then pivoted on his heel and left the chamber.
His departure lessened the tension in her shoulders and lightened the air. She walked over to the altar and ran her hands over the polished stone. Cold chilled her back. Her mind numbed as fear and regret entered her chest.
What did it feel like to be placed upon this stone and know that you would never see another day or embrace love? 


Pam Hargraves said...

Sounds like a great book, can't wait to read it.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Pam. Thank you! I hope you enjoy Secrets of a Mayan Moon. And thank you for stopping in and reading my blog.

Judith Ashley said...

This is certainly the year to have a book about The Mayans! Love the excerpt.

Paty Jager said...

Judith, Thanks for stopping in and commenting! I hadn't planned it to come out this year, it just happened.

Wendy Warren said...

The book sounds fascinating. Loved your blog and will read it to my daughter, who is 3/4 Mayan :-D

Paty Jager said...

Thank you Wendy for stopping in and enjoying the blog.

Marie Harte said...

Really great excerpt. You left me wanting to read more!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Marie, That was the plan. ;0)

Nancy Jardine said...

Hi Paty. I've promised myself for years now that I'd learn as much as I can about The Mayans. Haven't managed it but I might learn a little from your book. It sounds great. Best Wishes.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Nancy! I learned more about the modern Mayans than the ancient ones because of the woman in Guatemala who helped me with this book. But there is history in them too.

Sarah Raplee said...

I'm intrigued by your excerpt. Can't wait to read this one!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks, Sarah!

LisaRayns said...

I agree with Judith - great year for this. It looks fabulous!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Lisa!