The Maya and their Star Wars
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Sunday January 27, 2019

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Glyphs depicting star-war events


Altar 21, Caracol, that decribes the AD 562 star-war event against Tikal


Drawing of Altar 21

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The Maya and their Star Wars

Top Photo: Tikal was featured in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, as the jungle covered moon, Yavin 4

Star Wars will forever be cemented in history as one of the greatest movie franchises of all times, even if many people are divided over the greatness of some later post 1980’s episodes. Nonetheless their influence on pop culture is undeniable.

Long before Star Wars ever made it to the screens, a different kind of star-war took place but lacked light sabers, jedis or ewoks. For the ancient Maya, a star-war was a battle campaign perfectly timed with some astronomical event, most of them being when Venus first appears as the evening star, and as the Maya had great astronomers, these events could be calculated precisely.

These star-wars were major campaigs and resulted in the defeat of one polity by the other, and the first recorded star-war was waged by Belize’s very own Caracol against Tikal in AD 562, with Caracol being victorious. This saw a century’s decline at Tikal with no monuments being erected.

Photographs courtesy Institute of Archaeology

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