The ancient Mayans and the Virtual Worlds

The ancient Mayans and the Virtual Worlds

A researcher at the University of California, Sarah Jackson, has been exploring the Mayan perspective in the material world and has discovered some parallels with today's culture.

If Facebook had been created 1,400 years ago, the ancient Mayans would have been big fans. The Mayans believed that a part of their identity could inhabit material objects, as in a courtesan's mirror or a sculptor's tool. The Mayans could even talk to your objects and take them to designated events. From his point of view, these elements were alive.

The practice of sharing your identity with material possessions may seem strange in today's context. But if we think about it carefully,The importance that we give today to social media in regards to the identity of a person is so different from the practice of the Mayans regarding their possessions?

Research by the University of Cincinnati is discovering These similarities between the ancient Mayans and today's culture as for the material.

«This refers to a lot of things that people are feeling right now about virtual realities and dealing with computers and their online social life.«Says Jackson, anthropological archaeologist. «These things start to occupy this awkward space when we ask ourselves, Is it real or not real? I look at the Mayan context and consider, Is it so different from some of the concerns we have now? Not in terms of some parallels referring to the concern for the roles that objects in the game and the way we are attached to things”.

For his research, Jackson uses hieroglyphic evidences They help you understand how the Mayans could have seen the material world. The researcher is building a database of the Mayan material terminology and the monitoring of certain property qualifications; visual markings in glyphs that show what material an object is made of, such as wood or stone.

The key to the process is try to look at these property qualifiers from the Mayan point of view. Jackson has discovered that the Mayans applied property qualifiers in a broad way, including some unexpected areas of divergence from literal interpretation.

An example would be the idea that a temple could have functions as a calendar or as a meteorological reference. Other Mayan behaviors indicate the belief in the concepts of agency and of the divisible object person, that is, objects can act in their own right and identity can be divided into sections that can live outside the body. «There are some very interesting possibilities if we can try to incorporate at least some kind of reconstructed understanding of how the Mayans would have viewed these matters, not just how we view them.«Says Jackson.

The researcher foresees major changes in some basic aspects of archeology, including excavation processes. She believes that even standard paperwork can codify certain assumptions and redirect an archaeologist's interpretation.

Jackson plans return to Belize next spring for additional field work, and he intends to try out some experimental techniques. His work with Christopher Motz, a doctoral student in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of California, seeks to develop a database and interface for mobile use of the tablet in field work. New technologies are intended to allow researchers to catalog field data in a way that integrates seamlessly with traditional methods.

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