..-.„... Alcyone _s_ Meropc Maia Eléctra .<5. Allas _,v_ Celaeno
158-159). In one account, it is said that Tezcatlipoca, a major Jaguar god, changed his name into Mixcoatl (Brundage, 1979, pp. 94-95).
A similar tale is told in the Guatemalan Mayan Popol Vuh that says that the 400 youths got drunk and were transferred to the sky. It adds that they became the Pleiades, thus, closing the circle and reenforcing the view that the knot jaguar was, somehow, identified both with Jupiter and the Pleiades (cf. Stewart 1978).
The reference to drunkenness suggests a connection with the goddesses of pulque and drunkenness, whose calendar names were Two Flower and Three Crocodile, identified as goddesses of the draconitic node passage at days 173 and 174 from Kelley's postulated base for calendar names of the gods (cf., Table 12.7). Here, we find a noteworthy coincidence, for the same two days appear 4332 and 4333 days from the base. The accumulated eclipse season interval is 4332.75+ days. The sidereal period of Jupiter is 4332.85- days. Moreover, the day 4331 is 1 Rain. In the Mixtec codices, this is the name of one of the Rain Gods, and the name Mixcoatl (Cloud Snake) strongly suggests that rain was one aspect of the complex Jupiter god. See Table 12.14 where rain deity names of the lords of Palenque are associated with Jupiter-Mercury conjunctions.
These seem to be good reasons why the main streets of Teotihuacan should have been aligned to the Pleiades on the western horizon and why the line should have been marked with pecked crosses. Aveni and Gibbs (1976) have shown the wide distribution and ceremonial importance of such crosses. Broda (2000, p. 420) points out that there are now 46 pecked circles known from Teotihuacan alone. Aveni (2000, pp. 255-267) emphasizes the high degree of similarity among examples from sites as distant as Uaxactun and Teotihuacan. The similarity of pecked circles to calendrical cosmograms is striking.
The Mesoamericans attached exceptional importance to the passage of the Sun through the zenith, and undoubtedly charted the solar annual motion to and from its northern stationary point, the summer solstice. There is an astronomical complex probably designed to mark the Tropic of Cancer. It was built by Teotihuacanos who went North from their great city. If this was indeed their purpose, we have an indication of the accuracy with which the Teotihuacanos could measure the Tropic's location. The site is Alta Vista, Zacatecas, now located at longitude W103°28:8, latitude +23°28f8, a mere 2.4 or 4.4 km N of the Tropic. Work on the site began between 350 and 550 a.d.; in 550 ± 100 a.d., the Tropic of Cancer would have been 9'5 ± 0'7 farther north than at present due to the decreasing obliquity of the ecliptic with time, and stood at a latitude of 23°38.3 ± 0.7, where the uncertainty in latitude derives from that in the date. The change of 9'5 is equivalent to a length of 17.5 kilometers.23 Thus, if the choice of location of Alta Vista for a solsticial zenith passage was deliberate, the error in establishing this site was ~8', about a quarter of the angular diameter of the Sun.
There is independent evidence that this site was astronomically important: Alta Vista contains a number of impressive calendrical alignments. The roadway from the Sun Temple is struck by the rising Sun at the summer solstice. A line through the eastern and western corners of the Sun Temple points to the rising Sun behind the peak Picacho Montoso, 11km E, at the equinoxes. Southward, at nearby Cerro Chapin, there are two pecked crosses, resembling those of Teotihuacan. The lines on these crosses point to the Sun rising behind the same Picacho Montoso, 13.75 km to the NE, at the summer solstice. Plate 5 (see the color insert) shows Sun rise beyond a pecked cross in this photo taken within a day of the summer solstice in 1999.
23 The relationship between a degree of geodetic latitude and distance in meters along the surface of a triaxial ellipsoid approximating the Earth's surface is as follows:
1° =111133.35 - 559.84cos2f - 0.000003519 cos 4f meters, where f is the latitude at the midpoint of the arc. Thus, in the present example, the length of 1° corresponds to 110.752. km so that 1' corresponds to 1.845.km.
Figure 12.26. The Caracol at Chichen Itza: Venus alignments have been suggested for the window jambs. (a) Front view of the monument. (b) Details of front stairs, showing stylobate structure. (c) Opening to the ruined tower. Photos by E.F. Milone.
As pointed out by Aveni (1980, pp. 232-233), the pecked crosses at Teotihuacan and at Cerro Chapin resemble a patolli board. The same calendrical and cosmological principles seem to be involved. Although this game is mentioned in early colonial sources on the Aztecs, details of play were not recorded. Remarkably, Alfonso Caso found the game still being played and was able to determine the rules. The integration of the game with Mesoamerican calendrics and cosmology is remarkably complete. The use of the numbers 13, 20, 260, and 4 in the calendar, in the game, and in surviving pecked crosses suggests that this was equally true in the Classic period at Teotihuacan and that the full Mesoamerican calendar was in use there, although we have no other direct evidence of it, save for two Caribbean shells with dates on them (see Caso 1967 and Langley 1986).
Although the marking of the extreme positions of the Sun appears frequently in alignments worldwide and the extreme positions of the Moon have been attested in a few rare cases, the Caracol Observatory at Chichen Itza (Figure 12.26) seems to be the only structure for which anyone has yet claimed alignments to the extreme rising points of Venus.
Astronomical observatory functions have been suggested for other Mesoamerican buildings, for example, the now-destroyed caracol of Paalmul opposite the island of Cozumel on the shore of eastern Yucatan (Mason 1927). The Paalmul conical tower resembled the Caracol at Chichen Itza. See Aveni (1980) for further discussion of this site.
This concludes our discussion of Mesoamerican astronomy. The ethnoastronomy of the rest of North America will be considered next.
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