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This book differs from past publications related to the prehistoric Maya in that it was written as a chronological narrative history using William Dray’s “rational explanation” philosophy (Dray 1970), rather than a highly technical treatise on the subject organized by subject matter and following the “covering law” model (Honderich 1995:364-365) as common in works on the Maya written by an anthropologist/archaeologist. In writing this book I can be accused of going over well-trodden ground previously published by astute scholars whose works have been largely accepted by the academic community. In essence that is the basic approach of this eclectic historical research, - to examine the widely divergent views expressed in published works and reexamine primary source evidence to determine an accurate and viable historical pattern for the origin and diffusion of Maya civilization. From this comprehensive reexamination and study (see Acknowledgements), there evolved a new pattern for the origin and diffusion of the major elements of Maya civilization that is defined and named as the; “Olmec/Chontal/Itzaì-Centric Theory. The philosophy of presenting history as a “rational explanation” pattern rather than a loose compilation of facts was voiced by William Dray in stating: “History has to do with the activities of human beings, and understanding the latter standardly involves notions of desire, belief, and purpose whose explanatory role cannot be adequately comprehended within the ‘covering law’ theory“ (Honderich 1995:365). A perhaps oversimplification of this basic idea can be expressed in the popular adage that, “pots are not people.” William McNeill in his book Mythistory and Other Essays has summarized this philosophy on historical research in stating: “To become history, facts have to be put together into a pattern that is understandable and creditable; and when that has been achieved, the resulting portrait of the past may become useful” (McNeill 1986:5). And in this book, these “facts that have been put together as a pattern,” consist of evidence derived from several sources; including analysis of artifacts and art from archaeological investigations, examination and interpretation of related early Spanish documents, and study and interpretation of oral Maya mythology and legends. The book presents verified evidence for a cultural pattern that challenges the popular view that the advanced Maya civilization in the Yucatan only developed late in the Classic and Post Classic period and was largely influenced by acculturation from the Mexican highlands or the jungles of the Peten. This popular view has little creditable historical foundation and is supported primarily by the “authority” of predecessor archaeologist/historians and by circular reasoning that since some motifs of art and architecture in the Yucatan can be found in the highland area; therefore that is their source. Contrary to this consensus, the theory or historical pattern presented in the book shows that the Olmec cultural heritage and knowledge did not die out or disappear with the questionable destruction and abandonment of their early centers, but melded unbroken into the growing power of the militaristic, mercantile oriented Chontal Maya, their close neighbors residing only a short distance east in Tabasco. Part I details how the Chontal Maya; later known by their true name as the Itzaì, spread the Olmec/Chontal/Itzaì Kukulcan myth, writing, mathematics, and other vestiges of advanced civilization, first to Yucatan and subsequently throughout the Maya lowlands and peripheral highland areas. This is contrary to current consensus which sees the flow of acculturation in the opposite direction or developing independently as contemporary widely dispersed centers with no defined pattern. In challenging long accepted theories and patterns of acculturation it becomes necessary to not only support my theory and pattern with evidence and argument, but to show the weakness or flaws of previously published views in a creditable dialectical analysis. In that respect, the book is unique in that it constitutes both a history of the period and a history of the published historiography related to the period. Part I is filled with provocative “new thinking” on the subject, but perhaps the two most striking are these: (1) Contrary to current consensus, which pictures the Maya god Kukulcan as derived from the highland god Quetzalcoatl; instead the Olmec/Maya primal god Kukulcan was the prototype for the highland god Quetzalcoatl and preceded the derived (and highly perverted) highland god by nearly a millennium (pages 29-46, 82-86). (2) Chicheìn Itzaì was not destroyed and abandoned in the twelfth or thirteenth century as popularly believed and reported, but instead, the verifiable and documented evidence in the book, indicates it was a large thriving capital city continuously occupied by the populous and powerful Itzaì from ancient times until well into the sixteenth-century and the Itzaì warlords of the city had no knowledge of any past destruction and abandonment (pages 70-97). Part II shows that misinterpretation, or in some cases blind acceptance of unfounded fiction in colonial period documents, has led to distorted and inaccurate patterns of Maya history contained in current historiography. One factor that promoted this inaccurate history is the early Spanish chroniclers (Landa, Herrera, Duran, and others) had no concept of Maya mythology of creation and when the Maya attempted to acquaint them with their pantheon of gods the Spaniards assumed they were speaking of earlier mortal kings. Another significant factor contributing to the misunderstanding of early Maya history has been the inordinate acceptance of the Popol Vuh as containing the Maya creation mythology, and thus is viewed as the “Bible” of the ancient Maya. Contrary to this view, the late and convoluted folklore of the Quiche contained in the Popol Vuh represented only a small and relatively unimportant segment of the ancient Maya polity in both time and space. The late folklore legends in the Popol Vuh bear little relation to the original Maya creation mythology of the primal gods Kukulcan/Itzamna as the “First Father” and “Ix Chel as the “First Mother.” Part III contains positive and verifiable evidence that the Maya were not limited to primitive stone tools, but had developed a variety of bronze tools with which they constructed their large seaworthy composite vessels and traveled to the islands of the Caribbean and the shores of Florida. The Maya from northern Yucatan had also developed a sophisticated method of celestial navigation for their long ocean voyages a millennium before it was developed in Europe (pages 101-148; Peck 2001:145-149). The views of archaeologists that “the Maya had no metal tools” (Sharer 1994:39, 641-640) was obtained from a study of inanimate material evidence or irrelevant non-evidence (i.e. “covering law” model) from archaeological investigation of long abandoned and stripped ruins; together with failure to consider (or completely ignoring) abstract knowledge and verifiable evidence contained in related written and oral documented history. The Epilogue is an important part of the book in that it is a microcosm of Maya history that extends beyond the prehistoric period and gives a brief overview of the sociological and cultural changes brought about by Spanish conquest. The Epilogue also contains a discussion of the important historical role played by Jacinto Canek, the legendary Maya hero; to which the book is fittingly dedicated.

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