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Ancient

Camazotz: the “Batman” of Mayan mythology

Batman is not the only batman that exists, or at least he is not the first. Since before the DC Comics hero there was Camazotz, a mysterious pre-Hispanic deity that symbolized night, death and sacrifice.

Camazotz: the "Batman" of Mayan mythology

Although in recent days this dark Mayan god has had a great impact on the networks, there is not much information available about him. One of the few places where we find something is in the Popol Vuh, the ancient stories of the Quiche.

There this bat man is a kind of angel that descends from Heaven in order to decapitate the wooden humans of the second creation of the gods Tepeu and Kukulkan, for being imperfect and having no feelings.

In the same book of the Popol Vuh we are told that Ixbalanqué and Hunahpú, the twin gods, were the sons of Hun-Hunahpú, god of fertility and the ball game, and the beautiful Ixquic, daughter of Kuchumakik, one of the Lords of Xibalbá

One day, Hun-Hunahhpú and his twin Vucub-Hunahpú started playing in the ball game; as they made a lot of noise, the gods of Xibalbá got angry and Hun Camé and Vucub Camé, the main lords of the Underworld, challenged them to play in their lares. Of the sacred game the winners were those of Xibalbá.

Camazotz: the "Batman" of Mayan mythology

Ixbalanqué and Hunahpú took revenge, and went to the Underworld equipped only with blowguns. After successfully passing many tests and evils that are the object of the gods of the hereafter, and thanks to the advice and help of Camazotz, they spend the night in the House of Bats, Zotzilaha, “where the bats screamed, shouted and fluttered », inhabited by Zotzilaha Chimalman, the bat god.

This chilling place, was a frightening cave that was located in what is now Alta Verapaz, near Cobán in the Republic of Guatemala. It is in this cavern that Hunahpú loses his life when he is beheaded by one of the bat batsmen commanded by Zotzilaha.

And his head served as a ball in the last game. However, Ixbalanqué with the help of a rabbit regains his head and places it again with his twin.

And although the mentions of Camazotz in the antiquity are meager, in the modernity it enjoys certain popularity. His most recent appearance is in the Hellboy movie of this year, directed by Neil Marshall. And it’s also one of the monsters that Hellboy faces. This happens in the Hellboy in Mexico comic book of the year 2010.

Camazotz: the "Batman" of Mayan mythology

We also have the collectible card game called Myths and Legends in which this god appears as a “Beast” type card. His art shows a humanoid bat with a hellish face and was illustrated by Marcos Villaroel.

The description of the letter is as follows: «The bat of death slips in the deep, silent and accurate night, it is a spear thrown against life itself».

Then we have his representation in the video game Smite, a MOBA that focuses on gods as characters to choose from. And exactly Camazotz makes his appearance as a character to choose. In this game he is known as «The Deadly God of Bats».

Last but not least, we have a bust made by Christian Pacheco. A creation made for the exhibition of the 75th anniversary of Batman. This bust was one of the many shown, but it was the only one based on Camazotz. What’s your opinion about it? Leave your comment below.

Camazotz: the "Batman" of Mayan mythology

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Ancient

A settlement was found in Iceland, which is mentioned in fairy tales

In 2013, archaeologists studied the Icelandic sea bay of Arnarfjordur, on the territory of which, during the Middle Ages, the Vikings supposedly lived. In the course of scientific work, scientists discovered a pile of ash, which clearly remained after the complete combustion of the ancient house. 

Due to lack of funding, the excavation had to be postponed until 2017, but, in the end, the researchers managed to find the remains of a 10th century farm settlement. At the moment, it is known that it consists of a hut, a 23-meter earthen house, three small houses, a workshop and a cowshed. 

The furnaces installed in the buildings were larger than usual, so scientists believe that thousands of years ago the inhabitants of these places were actively engaged in blacksmithing. The most interesting fact is that the life of the people of this region was told in one of the medieval sagas, which bordered on fairy tales.

Kraken – one of the monsters of Scandinavian legends

Viking houses

An unusual place was described in the Ancient Origins edition. In the excavated houses, archaeologists managed to find the remains of large furnaces with cracked stones. Based on the finds, the researchers put forward the theory that the Vikings who lived in the Arnarfjordur Bay were engaged in the extraction of iron and the manufacture of various tools. 

Unfortunately, the remains of these tools have not yet been found by archaeologists. In the future, they plan to use flying drones to find land plots, under which the remains of thousand-year-old Viking buildings and tools made by them may also be hidden. Everything that they manage to find will help to study the historical sagas, which talk about the life of the Scandinavian peoples in the period from 930 to 1030.

Excavation in Arnarfjordur Bay

The first inhabitants of Iceland

One of these sagas is Landamabok, written in the XII century. It is considered the oldest written source ever discovered, detailing the early days of Iceland. This historical work will give a list of the first inhabitants of Iceland: there are about 3,000 names and about 1,400 place names. According to Landnamabok, one of the first settlers of a place called Svinadalur was a certain Eyvindur Audkula. 

In 1300 AD, the ruler of these lands was Bjarnason Auðkýlingur. The places described in this saga have many similarities with the aforementioned Arnarfjordur Bay. Most likely, this work tells about local residents.

Frame from the series “Vikings”

Scandinavian monsters

But if this work tells about real people and events, then where does the fairy tale? The fact is that the historical work also deals with sea monsters that were seen in Icelandic waters. It is noteworthy that not only the people who first settled in Iceland in 874 AD believed in mythical creatures. 

Our contemporaries allegedly see them from time to time. According to Ancient Origins, about 4,000 sightings of sea and lake monsters have been recorded in Iceland over the past hundred years. Moreover, about 180 monsters were met in the Arnarfjordur Bay.

The Nekki is another Scandinavian scum. Something between a mermaid and a mermaid

Rumor has it that some people have been able to see huge monsters like the Loch Ness monster, whose existence has recently been again talked about. Most likely, all of these messages are used to attract the attention of tourists. In the Icelandic village of Bildudalur, which is just located on the coast of Arnarfjordur, in early 2010, even the Sea Monster Museum was opened. 

All the exhibits presented in this institution tell about monsters from Scandinavian legends. In addition to viewing the exhibits, visitors can also listen to stories from fishermen. In general, Iceland is famous for its mystical component and tourists can learn a lot about magic, monsters and other evil spirits.

The excavations in Arnarfjordur Bay should ultimately help historians to separate fiction from real facts in historical documents. 

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Ancient

Sensational Findings About Nebra’s Celestial Disc: It is 1000 years younger than previously thought

Scientists from Germany have clarified the dating of one of the most famous and mysterious artifacts found in recent years. The Celestial Disc of Nebra, considered the oldest depiction of the cosmos, is younger than thought.

A new study of the celestial disk from Nebra, formerly considered the oldest depiction of space, has shown that it was made in the Iron Age, making it much younger. This is stated in a study published September 3 in the journal Archäologische Information and a summary of it appeared on the website of the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. Experts from the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich also took part in the study.

The Nebra Celestial Disc is one of the most significant archaeological finds in German history. In 2013, it was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. This artifact was discovered in 1999, and was found by “black diggers”. Presumably, it was found along with swords, axes and bracelets from the Bronze Age.

Photo: Hildegard Burri-Bayer / Goethe University Frankfurt am Main

Until now, it was believed that the celestial disk from Nebra dates back to the Early Bronze Age, created approximately in the years 2200-1600 BC. However, archaeologists from Goethe University Frankfurt and Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich re-analyzed the location and circumstances of the find. And they came to the conclusion that the disc must be dated to the Iron Age, which is about 800 – 50 BC.

The Celestial Disc from Nebra is one of the most significant archaeological finds in Germany and was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2013. Searchers said it was discovered during illegal excavations in Germany in 1999, along with Bronze Age swords, axes and bracelets.

Therefore, many years of research have been aimed at verifying both the identity of the alleged find and the general origin of the objects, regardless of the vague information provided by black diggers.

As a result of new research, archaeologists concluded that the site, which until today was considered a find and which was investigated during subsequent excavations, with a high degree of probability is not the true place of the discovery of the celestial disk. In addition, there is no conclusive evidence that swords, axes and bracelets from the Bronze Age form a common ensemble.

According to archaeologists, this means that the disc should be examined and evaluated as a separate find. Therefore, since the celestial disc from Nebra does not correspond to the motives of the early Bronze Age and should be considered as an artifact of the Iron Age, the researchers say.

The Celestial Disc from Nebra was discovered in 2001 while trying to sell it on the black market for archaeological artefacts. The looters were detained, and the disc was handed over to the archaeological museum at the University of Halle.

Disc sellers said they found the disc in 1999 with a metal detector in the town of Nebra (Saxony-Anhalt, 60 km west of Leipzig). From the same burial, they extracted two bronze swords, two hatchets, a chisel, and fragments of spiral bracelets.

During excavations in Nebra, archaeologists did find traces of the presence of bronze. It also turned out that the soil from the excavation site is exactly the same as the traces of which were found on the disc.

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Ancient

Gilgamesh: Babylonian clay tablets older than the Bible

For centuries, European students have been reading the ancient myths about Hercules and Odysseus , amazed at the exploits of the ancient heroes. Christians knew the story of the Old Testament strongman Samson, who tore lions to pieces with his bare hands. Artists wrote hundreds of canvases about these heroes, sculptors sculpted dozens of statues, but no one knew that both biblical and ancient heroes go back to the same character!

In 1849, British archaeologist Austin Henry Layard excavated the Middle East. He wanted to find evidence of the events described in the Old Testament. At that time, the Bible was believed to contain the oldest texts in the world. However, Layard’s excavations undermined this version. The stone tablets he found from the library of King Ashurbanipal in Nineveh turned out to be much older than the most ancient biblical texts.

The tablets were urgently copied and sent to England, where the best specialists of the British Museum took up the translation. It took many years, and the first more or less complete English version was ready only in 1870. The first to attract attention was the story of the global flood, which is very similar to the biblical one. In the tablets, the ancient immortal sage spoke of the flood to King Gilgamesh. The European scientific world has exploded, debating whether this event coincides with the biblical, and if so, whether it is possible to establish its date.

One of the tablets with the myths of Gilgamesh.
One of the tablets with the myths of Gilgamesh. Source: wikipedia.org

Scientists tried to establish the time of the reign of Gilgamesh first. According to archaeological sources, it was possible to find out that such a king really existed. He ruled the city of Uruk in the 3rd millennium BC. In one of the texts found during excavations, it was possible to read that Gilgamesh built the walls of Uruk. This made it possible to somewhat narrow down the estimated years of life of the legendary king, but to establish them more accurately than “between 2800-2500 BC. e. ” failed.

Sumerian mythology: a bunch of heroes with creepy names

For non-historians, the myths about Gilgamesh are interesting. And not only because of the exciting adventures of the ancient king, but also because of his similarity with other famous heroes of antiquity. Gilgamesh was a two-thirds god and a terrible tyrant, actively practicing the right of the first night and driving people to meaningless work. The subjects of the cruel king prayed to all the gods for deliverance from such a ruler, and the heavenly rulers, after consulting, created a wild man Enkidu, “equal to Gilgamesh”. This mighty “Mowgli” lived in absolute harmony with nature. He had to be tamed with the help of the priestesses of the goddess of love, whom the savage did not attack. The tamed savage was explained that he must defeat the king and showed the way to Uruk.

The messenger of the gods arrived in the city and immediately grappled with Gilgamesh. After a long battle, the king won, but, recognizing the strength of his opponent, he invited him to become his friend and assistant. Suddenly, Enkidu agreed. To celebrate, the king offered to go to perform the feat – to kill the terrible demon Humbaba. The new friend was somewhat surprised at this turn of events, but nevertheless agreed.

Enkidu is a Sumerian sculpture.
Enkidu is a Sumerian sculpture. Source: wikipedia.org

When Gilgamesh went to ask the blessings of his mother, the goddess Ninsun, she adopted Enkidu, making him the half-brother of the king himself. Having received their mother’s advice, Gilgamesh and Enkidu went to the forest where Humbaba lived. At the halt, the king had nightmares about rockfalls, terrible thunderstorms, wild bulls and giant fire-breathing birds. Enkidu optimistically interpreted them as predicting the coming success of the campaign.

Reaching the forest where Humbaba lived, the king was frightened when he saw a terrible giant, but Enkidu managed to restore his brother’s courage, and he rushed into battle. Even Gilgamesh’s strength was not enough to defeat the terrible demon. Then the god of justice and the sun, Shamash, watching what was happening, sent a hurricane to interfere with the huge Humbaba. When the king defeated the demon, he prayed for mercy, assuring him that he would become a loyal servant of Gilgamesh. Enkidu declared that he did not trust the demon and offered to finish him off, thereby strengthening his authority. And so they did.

The king, who returned with the head of a terrible monster, was honored as a hero. Even the goddess of love Ishtar became interested in Gilgamesh in every sense. But the king knew about her frivolity, so he immediately stopped all possible inclinations against him. The offended goddess went to her father, the supreme god Anu and begged him, sent the Heavenly Bull to Uruk, who set floods, trampled the fields and killed people. Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeated the monster, and without any divine help.

Gilgamesh fights the Heavenly Bull.  Sumerian bas-relief.
Gilgamesh fights the Heavenly Bull. Sumerian bas-relief. Source: wikipedia.org

This overflowed the cup of heavenly patience, and the gods decided to kill Enkidu, who did not fulfill their will. The poor man immediately fell ill, and when he realized that the gods were to blame for this, he cursed them for 12 whole days. When Enkidu passed away, Gilgamesh was so grief-stricken that he refused to believe in his brother’s death until the first larva fell from the corpse’s nose.

The king arranged a funeral of the highest order. The whole city and the inhabitants of the surrounding villages were invited to the feast, the king himself shaved his head as a sign of mourning and prepared untold riches from his treasury to bury with Enkidu. For the grave, they even blocked the river, dug the grave at the bottom, buried it, and then let the water again so that the king’s brother would rest at the bottom, where no one could get to him.

After the death of his brother, the king realized that more than anything in the world he was afraid of his own death. Gilgamesh’s new goal was the search for immortality. For this, he decided to go to Utnapishtim, whom the gods granted immortality. On his way, he met lions, of which he made new clothes for himself, met two scorpion people, whom he persuaded to let him pass in peace, and walked a mountain path where the sun had never been. So he got to the ever-flowering Garden of the Gods.

Gilgamesh fights with lions.  Sumerian figurine.
Gilgamesh fights with lions. Sumerian figurine. Source: en. wikipedia.org

To the wanderer’s surprise, Utnapishtim looked like an ordinary person. Gilgamesh tried to find out how he achieved immortality. The long-liver said that when the gods informed him of the flood and provided everything he needed to build the ark, he escaped with his family, workers and animals. As a reward for strictly following the instructions, when the flood ended, the gods granted him and his loved ones immortality. Gilgamesh continued to insist that there was still a secret of eternal life. Then the sage suggested that the hero try not to fall asleep for six days and seven nights: after all, sleep is a small death, but how he wants to overcome death if he cannot overcome sleep. Naturally, Gilgamesh did not cope with the test.

Before parting, the wife of Utnapishtim said that she had heard about a plant that does not give immortality, but can return youth once. Delighted, Gilgamesh set off on a new quest and even managed to find a magic flower. He did not use the plant right away, but decided to return to Uruk, study the miracle flower there and prepare an elixir of youth from it. On the way back, the king wanted to swim. While he was washing, the magic flower was eaten by a snake crawling by. She rejuvenated, shedding her skin, and crawled away. In frustrated feelings, Gilgamesh returned to his native Uruk, not knowing what to do next.

An endless story is a story whose end has not been found

This broke off the text that had been engraved on eleven stone tablets found by British archaeologists. Despite the fact that the twelfth also spoke of Gilgamesh, scholars believe that this is not a continuation of the epic, but a kind of “spin-off”: Gilgamesh again meets a living and healthy Enkidu. Together they travel to the afterlife to recover something stolen from the king. But because of the lost fragments, it is very difficult to understand which part of the story this fragment belongs to.

When the epic of Gilgamesh was translated and published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it inspired many authors of a wide variety of genres – from fantasy to historical novels. The ancient character became the hero of anime and computer games. Even in Muslim countries, this story is very popular. For example, Saddam Hussein was a great lover of stories about the great king of the ancient Mesopotamia. Probably, the mustachioed tyrant of Iraq considered himself in some way the heir of Gilgamesh – the winner of everything.

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