Chapter 5: Strangers from across the Seas

“When the Toltecs under their leader Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl left Tollan in A.D. 987, disgusted by the religious abominations and seeking a place where they could worship as in the olden days, they went to Yucatan. Surely they could have found a new home closer by, a less arduous journey, a passage through less hostile tribes. Yet they chose to trek almost a thousand miles, to a land different in all respects – flat, riverless, tropical – from their own. They did not stop until they had reached Chichen Itza. Why? What was the imperative in reaching the sacred city that the Maya had already abandoned? We can only search the ruins for an answer.

Chichen Itza, easily reached from Merida… it was the jungle canopy that had to be removed…

“…Rewarding the visitor with a double treat: a visit to an “Old Empire” Maya city and to a mirror image of Tollan as its emigrants had last seen it; for when the Toltecs arrived, they rebuilt and built over Chichen Itza in the image of their erstwhile capital.

“Archaeologists believe that the site was an important settlement even in the first millennium B.C… Most of the visible remains from the era of Maya dominion are located in the southern or “Old Chichen” part of the site… Last to occupy (or rather, reoccupy) Chichen Itza before the arrival of the Toltecs were the Itzas, a tribe that some believe were kinsmen of the Toltecs and others see as emigrants from the south. It is they who gave the place its current name, meaning “The Well Mouth of the Itzas.”

Among the many features of Chichen Itza, Mr. Sitchin mentions:

The image of Chacmool and of a jaguar, which the Toltecs installed.

“As at Tula (Tollan), facing the pyramid of Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan, across the main plaza is the main ball court. It is an immense rectangular arena, 545 feet long – the largest in Mesoamerica. High walls rise along the two long sides; at the center of each, thirty-five feet above the ground, there protrudes a stone ring decorated with carvings of entwined serpents. To win the game the ballplayers have to throw a ball of solid rubber through the rings. There were seven players in each team; the team that lost paid a heavy price: its leader was decapitated.

“…The severe end suggests that there was more than play and entertainment to this ball game. At Chichen Itza, as at Tula, there were several ball courts, perhaps for training or lesser matches. The main ball court was unique in its size and splendor, and the importance of what took place in it was underscore by the fact that it was provided with three temples that were richly decorated with scenes of warriors, mythological encounters, the Tree of Life, and a winged and bearded deity with two horns.

Image: Chac-Mool at the Temple of Warriors, Chichen Itza.

Chac-Mool at the Temple of Warriors, Chichen Itza.


Image: Chac-Mool at the Temple of Warriors, Chichen Itza.

Chac-Mool at the Temple of Warriors, Chichen Itza.


Image: Ball Court, Chichen Itza.

Ball Court, Chichen Itza.


Image: Ball Court, Chichen Itza.

Ball Court, Chichen Itza.

“All this, and the diversity and regalia of the ball players, suggest to us an intertribal, if not international, aspect of an event of great political – religious significance. The number of players (seven), the decapitation of the losers’ leader, and the use of a rubber ball seem to mimic a mythological tale in the Popol Vuh of a combat between the gods conducted as a contest with a rubber ball. It pitched the gods Seven-Macaw and his two sons against various Sky Gods, including the Sun, Moon, and Venus. The defeated son Seven-Huanaphu was executed: “His head was cut off from his body and rolled away, his heart was cut out from his chest.” But being a god, he was resurrected and became a planet.

“Such a reenactment of godly events would have made the Toltec custom akin to religious plays in the ancient Near East. In Egypt, the dismemberment and resurrection of Osiris was reenacted annually in a mystery play in which actors, including the pharaoh, played the roles of various gods; and in Assyria, a complex play, also performed annually, reenacted a battle between two gods in which the loser was executed, only to be pardoned and resurrected by the God of Heaven. In Babylon, Enuma Elish, the epic describing the creation of the solar system, was read annually as part of the New Year’s celebrations; it depicted the celestial collision that led to the creation of Earth (the Seventh Planet) as the cleaving and decapitating of the monstrous Tiamat by the supreme Babylonian god Marduk.

“The Maya myth and its reenactment, in echoing Near Eastern “myths” and their reenactments, appear to have retained the celestial elements of the tale and the symbolism of the number seven as it relates to the planet Earth. It is significant that in the Mayan-Toltec depictions along the walls of the ball court, some players carry as their emblem the Sun Disk, while others carry that of a seven-pointed star. That this was a celestial symbol and not just a chance emblem is confirmed, in our opinion, by the fact that elsewhere in Chichen Itza a four-pointed star was repeatedly depicted in combination with the “eight” symbol for the planet Venus and that at other sites in northwestern Yucatan temple walls were decorated with symbols of six-pointed stars.

“The depictions of planets as pointed stars is so common that we tend to forget how this custom had arisen: As so much else, it began in Sumer. Based on what they had learned from the Nefilim, the Sumerians counted the planets not as we do, from the Sun outward, but from the outside in.

Image: Museum at Merida.

Museum at Merida.

“…We find the Sumerian method much more elegant and accurate, and suggest that the Maya/Toltec depictions followed the Near Eastern iconography; for, as one can see, the symbols found at Chichen Itza and elsewhere in Yucatan are almost identical to those by which the various planets had been depicted in Mesopotamia.

Valuable sculptures with more “stars” are kept in the Museum at Merida, like the one found at Tzekelna. Also at Oxkintok, a female figure, as counterpart of the one mentioned above, both are given suggestions of being Water Gods.

“…The focal point of the worship of Itzamna (the god of the Itzas) and Quetzalcoatl, and perhaps also of the memories of Votan, was the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza – a huge well that gave Chichen Itza its name.

Continuing with the story about the Cenote of Chichen Itza…

” In 1885, Edward H. Thompson, after purchasing one hundred square miles of jungle, which included Chichen Itza… he organized for the Peabody Museum of Harvard University systematic dives into the well to retrieve its sacred offerings… More than 3,400 objects were made of jade… more than 500 objects bore carvings depicting animals and people. Among the latter, some were clearly bearded, resembling depictions on the temple walls of the ball court.

Image: North Section of Chichen Itza.

North Section of Chichen Itza.

“Even more significant were the metal objects that the divers brought up. Hundreds were made of gold, some of silver or coppersignificant finds in a peninsula devoid of metals. Some of the objects were made of gilded copper or copper alloys, including bronze, revealing a metallurgical sophistication unknown in the Maya lands and attesting that the objects had been brought from distant lands. Most puzzling of all was the discovery of disks of pure tin, a metal that it is not found in its native state and that can be obtained only by a complex refining of ores – ores that are altogether absent in Mesoamerica.

“…Most important, disks with engraved or embossed with encounter scenes. In these, persons in different garbs and of diverse features confront each other, perhaps in combat, in the presence of terrestrial or celestial serpents of Sky Gods. The dominant or victorious hero is always depicted bearded.

“…The identity of these bearded people is a puzzle; what is certain is that they were not native Indians, who grow no facial hair and have no beards. Who, then, were these foreigners? Their “Semitic” or rather Eastern Mediterranean features (even more prominent in clay objects bearing facial images) have led various researchers to identify them as Phoenicians or “seafaring Jews,” perhaps blown off course and carried by the Atlantic’s currents to the shores of Yucatan when King Solomon and the Phoenician king Hiram joined forces to send maritime expeditions around Africa in search of gold (circa 1000 B.C.); or a few centuries later, when the Phoenicians were driven away from their port cities in the eastern Mediterranean, established Carthage, and sailed to western Africa.

“No matter who the seafarers might have been and the proposed crossing time, established academic researchers dismiss out of hand any notion of deliberate crossings. They either explain the obvious beards as false beards, artificially attached by the Indians to their chins, or as belonging to the chance survivors of shipwrecks. Clearly, the first argument (seriously made by renowned scholars) only begs the question: if the Indians emulated some other bearded people, who were those other people?

“Nor does the explanation of a few shipwrecked survivors seem valid. The native traditions, as in the legend of Votan, speak of repeated voyages, of exploration followed by settlement (the establishment of cities). The archaeological evidence belies the notion of a few chance survivors cast on a single shore. The Bearded Ones, in poses of a variety of activities and circumstances, have been depicted at sites all along the Mexican gulf coast, at inland locations, and as far south as the Pacific coast. Not stylized, not mythified, but as portraits of actual individuals.

“Some of the most striking examples of such depictions have been found in Veracruz. The people they immortalize are clearly identical to West Semitic dignitaries taken prisoner by Egyptian pharaohs during their Asiatic campaigns, as depicted by the victors in their commemorative inscriptions upon temple walls.

“Why, and when, did such Mediterranean seafarers come to Mesoamerica? The archaeological clues are baffling, for they lead to an even greater enigma: the Olmecs, and their apparent black African origins; for, as many depictions – as the one from Alvarado, Veracruz – show, the Bearded Ones and the Olmecs had met, face to face, in the same domain and at the same time.

Image: Olmec Colossal Heads.

Olmec Colossal Heads.


Image: Olmec Colossal Heads.

Olmec Colossal Heads.

“Of all the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica, that of the Olmecs is the oldest and the most mystifying. It was by all counts the Mother Civilization, copied and adapted by all the others. It dawned along the Mexican coast at the beginning of the second millennium B.C. (or, some hold, by 1500 B.C.). Spreading in all directions, but mainly southward, it made its mark along Mesoamerica by 800 B.C.

“The first Mesoamerican glyphic writing appears in the Olmec realm; so does the Mesoamerican system of numeration, of dots and bars. The first Long Count calendar inscriptions, with the enigmatic starting date in 3113 B.C.; the first works of magnificent and monumental sculpted art; the first use of jade; the first depictions of hand-held weapons or tools; the first ceremonial centers; the first celestial orientations – all were achievements of the Olmecs… they have been compared to the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, which accounted for all the “firsts” in the ancient Near East. And, like the Sumerian civilization, the Olmecs too appeared suddenly, without a precedent or a prior period of gradual advancement… The Olmecs expressed their “myths” in sculptured art, as on the stela from Izapa of one winged god beheading another. The tale-in-stone is remarkably similar to a Sumerian depiction.

“Unique in all aspects are giant stone heads sculpted with incredible skill and unknown tools to portray Olmec leaders. The first to see such a gigantic head was J.M. Melgar y Serrano at Tres Zapotes in the state of Veracruz. He described it in the Bulletin of the Mexican Geographical and Statistical Society (in 1869) as “a work of art… a magnificent sculpture that most amazingly represents an Ethiopian.” Accompanying drawings faithfully reproduced the head’s negroid features.

The heads measure about eight feet high, twenty-one in circumference, and weigh about twenty-four tons. “It depicts without question a negroid African wearing a distinct helmet. In time, additional such heads, each portraying a distinctly different individual with his own different helmet but with the same facial features, were found at La Venta.

“…By now sixteen such colossal heads have been found… radiocarbon readings gave dates to circa 1200 B.C.… That these were individuals all of the same African negroid stock but with their own personalities and diverse headgear, can be readily seen from a portrait gallery of some of these heads… “giants” in stature, no doubt in the eyes of the indigenous Indian population… some terracotta and even some more stone sculptures of the Olmecs portray them as holding babies – an act that must held special significance for them.

Extraordinary finds at La Venta (which shows “that it was a small island in the swampy coastal area, has been artificially shaped, landfilled and built up according to a preconceived plan, a place devoid of stones; major edifices have been laid out with great geometric precision along a north-south axis, extending for about three miles”), have been found, and Mr. Sitchin gives a good description of them in his book.

“At any rate, the insistence of the employment of great blocks of stone, even if it had to be brought from afar, for monuments, commemorative sculptures, and burials must serve as a clue to the enigmatic origin of the Olmecs.

Image: Olmec Priest with Infant.

Olmec Priest with Infant.


Image: Olmec Ceramic "Baby" Figurine.

Olmec Ceramic “Baby” Figurine.

“No less puzzling was the discovery at La Venta of hundreds of artistically carved objects of the rare jade, including unusual axes made of this semiprecious stone that is no locally available. Then, to add to the mystery they were all deliberately buried in long, deep trenches. The trenches, in turn, were filled with layers of clay, each layer of a different kind and color of clay – thousands of tons of soil brought over from diverse distant places. Incredibly, the trenches were paved at the very bottom with thousands of tiles of serpentine, another green-blue semiprecious stone. It has been generally assumed that the trenches were dug to bury in them the precious jade objects; but the floors of serpentine could also suggest that the trenches were constructed earlier, for another purpose all together; but were used to bury highly valued objects, such as rare axes, once the need for them (and for the trenches) ceased. There is indeed no doubt that the Olmec sites were abandoned by them around the beginning of the Christian era and that the Olmecs even attempted to bury some of the colossal heads. Whoever gained access to their sites afterward, did so with a vengeance: some of the heads were clearly toppled off their bases and rolled down-hill into the swamps; others bear marks of attempted mutilation.

“As another enigma from La Venta, let us note the discovery in the trenches of concave mirrors of crystallized iron ores (magnetite and hematite), shaped and polished to perfection. After studies and experiments scholars at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., have concluded that the mirrors could be used to focus the sun’s rays, to light fires or for “ritual purposes” (the scholars’ way of saying they do not know what an object was for).

“The final enigma at La Venta is the site itself, for it is precisely oriented on a north-south axis that is tilted 8 degrees west of true north. Various studies have shown that this was an intentional orientation, intended to permit astronomical sightings, perhaps from atop the conical “pyramid” whose prominent ridges may have served as directional indicators. A special study by M. Popenoe-Hatch. (Papers on Olmec and Maya Archaeology No. 13, University of California) concluded that:

“The pattern of observation being made at La Venta at 1000 B.C. indicates that it must date back to a body of knowledge learned a millennium earlier… The La Venta site and its art of 1000 B.C. seem to reflect a tradition based in large part on the meridian transits of stars occurring in the solstices and equinoxes around 2000 B.C.”

“A beginning at 2000 B.C. would make La Venta the earliest “sacred center” in Mesoamerica, preceding Teotihuacan, except for the legendary time when gods alone were there. It still may not be the true time of the Olmecs’ arrival from across the seas, for their Long Count begins at 3113 B.C.; but it does clearly indicate how far ahead of the renowned civilizations of the Maya and the Aztecs the Olmecs had been.

“…Experts in earthworks, masters of stone working, diggers of trenches, channelers of water, users of mirrors – what, thus endowed, were the Olmecs doing in Mesoamerica? Stelae show them emerging from “altars” that represent entrances into the depth of the earth, or inside caves holding a puzzling array of tools, as on the Stela from La Venta in which it is possible to discern the enigmatic mirrors being attached to the toolholder’s helmets.

Image: Olmec sculpture of a Ruler emerging from a cave.

Olmec sculpture of a Ruler emerging from a cave.


Image: Olmec Ruler.

Olmec Ruler.

“All in all, the capabilities, the scenes, the tools appear to us to lead to one conclusion: the Olmecs were miners, come to the New World to extract some precious metals – probably gold, perhaps other rare minerals too.

“The legends of Votan, which speak of tunneling through mountains, support this conclusion. So does the fact that among the Olden Gods whose worship was adopted from the Olmecs by the Nahuatl people were the god Tepeyolloti, meaning “Heart of the Mountain.” He was a bearded God of Caves; his temple had to be of stone, preferably built inside a mountain. His glyph-symbol was a pierced mountain; he was depicted holding as his tool a flamethrower – just as we had seen at Tula!

“Did the Mediterranean Bearded Ones come to Mesoamerica at the same time as the African Olmecs? Were they allies, helping each other – or competitors for the same precious minerals or metals? No one can say with any certainty; but it is our own belief that the African Olmecs were there first and that the root of their arrival must be sought in that mysterious beginning date of the Long Count – 3113 B.C.

“No matter when and why the relationship began, it seems to have ended in a convulsion.

“…Olmec sites seem to have been abandoned gradually, first in the older “metropolitan center” near the Gulf, circa 300 B.C., then later on at more southern sites. We have seen the evidence of the date equivalent to 31 B.C. at Tres Zapotes; it suggests that the process of the abandonment of Olmec centers, followed by revengeful destruction, may have lasted several centuries, as the Olmecs gave up sites and retreated southward.

“The depictions from the turbulent period and from that southern zone of Olmec domains show them more and more as warriors, wearing frightening masks of eagles or jaguars. One such rock carving from the southern areas show three Olmec warriors (two with eagles masks) holding spears. The scene includes a naked captive who is bearded. What is not clear is whether the warriors are threatening the captive, or are depicted in the act of saving him. This leaves unclear the intriguing question, were the negroid Olmecs and the Bearded Ones from the eastern Mediterranean on the same side when the troubled times shattered Mesoamerica’s first civilization?

“They do seem to have shared, though, the same fate.

“At a most interesting site near the Pacific coast called Monte Alban – erected on a vast array of man-made platforms and with unusual structures built for astronomical purposes – dozens of stone slabs, erected in a commemorative wall, bear the carved images of the African-negroid men in contorted positions. For a long time they were nicknamed Danzantes, “Dancers”; but scholars now agree that they show the naked bodies of mutilated Olmecs -presumably killed in a violent uprising by the local Indians. Among the depicted negroid bodies there is one of a bearded man with a Semitic nose who obviously shared the fate of the Olmecs.

Monte Alban is believed to have been a settlement since 1500 B.C. and a major center since 500 B.C. Thus, within a few of its grandeur, its builders ended up as mutilated bodies commemorated on stone – victims of those whom they had tutored.

“And thus did the millennia, the golden age of the Strangers From Across the Seas, become just a legend.

Image: The "Bearded Man with a Semitic Nose" as given in Mr. Sitchin's book.

The “Bearded Man with a Semitic Nose” as given in Mr. Sitchin’s book.


Image: Mount Alban in Oaxaca.

Mount Alban in Oaxaca.


Image: "Danzante," But now recognized as a mutilated Olmec.

“Danzante,” But now recognized as a mutilated Olmec.

Continue to Chapter 6: Realm of the Golden Wand