A new series throughout much of 2022, which will scientifically explore the movement of cultivated crops, ideas and people across the Americas.
Hosted by over-the-hill, washed up MesoAmerican celebrity, Don Ricardo de Okefenokee . . . formerly the star on Mexican TV of “Los ángeles de Ricardo” (Richard’s Angels – photo above) and co-star in that sensual TV documentary series, “México desenterrado” (Mexico Unearthed). The program first aired as “Yucatan desenterrado,” but then spread out to other parts of the republic, due to popularity of the the parallel love-story in the plot.
Before we go any further on the first installment of this very important series in The Americas Revealed, let me make it crystal clear. Ten years after the “Maya Myth-busting In the Mountains” thing, I still have nothing, per se, against the profession of Archaeology. In fact, both of my early mentors, the internationally respected archaeologists Arthur Kelly and Román Piña Chán, wanted me to get a PhD in Anthropology, so I could be both a professional Architect and Archaeologist. I was in serious relationships with two lovely, intelligent women in Mexico, who went on to become highly respected anthropologists. Had there been an internet, either one could have become loving soulmates for life. Two of my best friends, while living in Virginia, were the famous archaeologists, George Stuart and Bill Gardner.
That being said, there is something terribly wrong in the way that anthropology is being taught and practiced today in the United States. Anthropologists, who specialize in archaeology are deluded into thinking that the technical skills, involved with the excavation of artifacts, is the same thing as the broad knowledge base and intellectual curiosity necessary to accurately interpret what they discover. Their minds are closed to discoveries being made that radically affect how they should interpret artifacts. As the readers will see in this initial article, in far too many university anthropology departments, anthropology is no longer a science, but instead has become fossilized cults in which mentally-unhealthy professors do very childish things.
Episode 1: Metaphor for an anthropology profession . . . fossilized
July 6, 1970 – I arrived in Mexico City on June 21, the Creek New Year’s Day, and was supposed to meet on July 23 at the National Museum with the internationally famous archaeologists, Román Piña Chán and Ignacio Bernal for an orientation tour of the museum and my first field assignments. Piña Chán was Curator of the National Museum. Bernal was Director of the Institutio Nacional de Anthropologia E Historia.
Instead . . . a man slightly older than me, knocked on the door of my room in a posada in Colonial Coyacan . . . claiming to be a Venezuelan doctor. He flashed a photo of a beautiful señorita, who he said was his sister and a college student in Mexico City. He said that she wanted to meet me.
Being a dumb, male college student myself, I was instantly enthralled by the photo and didn’t think it odd that a foreigner would know where I was . . . when I had been in my room only about 30 minutes. He invited me to join him for lunch at a buffet restaurant near the former homes of Russian Marxist, Leon Trotsky and artist Freida Khola. It was the first Mexican restaurant I had ever eaten in – anywhere. In 1970, we had a few Cuban restaurants in Atlanta, but I don’t remember ever seeing a Mexican restaurant.
The doctor urged me to get a large helping of the shrimp. He told me if I squeezed lemon juice on them, they would be safe. (lie) I never saw him again, but his sister showed up at the high school graduation ceremony of the Soto’s youngest daughter!
Later that afternoon, I was invited to have dinner at the home of the Soto family in Colonia Nueva Santa Maria, whose older daughter had worked at the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta. After dinner, the Soto daughters invited me to dance with them to their new Credence Clearwater Revival record.
It was late when the dancing ceased, so their parents invited me to spend the night in the youngest daughter’s room – minus the daughter, of course. During the night, I woke up, vomiting violently. The shrimp had been contaminated with the most dangerous strain of salmonella food poisoning . . . the strain that we now know killed about 85% of the indigenous peoples of the Mexican Highlands during the 1500s.
So, on June 22, I was extremely ill until Sr. Soto brought me antibiotics from a pharmaceutical plant he owned and the doctor came to their house to give an IV of metabolic fluids. I was still quite weak on June 23, when I was supposed to tour the museum.
At the museum
Because I was an official guest of the Sectretaria de Relaciones Culturales, both Dr. Piña Chán and Dr. Bernal initially assumed that I was a young architect from a wealthy Gringo family that was going to donate money to the museum or an archaeological dig. Within about five minutes of the tour, Bernal figured out that I was a middle class mestizo, who was merely an architecture student and just beginning to communicate in Spanish. He looked at his watch, uttered “idiotas” and walked away.
Per the suggestion of the Mexican Consul in Atlanta, I had brought along two books on the American Indian archaeological sites and artifacts of the Southeastern United States to give to the two famous archaeologists as a way of saying thank you in advance to the men for taking their valuable time to guide my fellowship.
Since Bernal walked away permanently, Piña Chán received both books at the entrance to the museum’s administrative offices, when the tour ended. He told me that he had a lunch appointment soon, so come back the next day to discuss my travel plans.
As I waited on the plaza for the next bus to take me to the Metro subway station, Dr. Piña Chán’s beautiful, intelligent summer intern, Alejandra, raced out on to the plaza, calling my name. She had just received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Texas, so was completely fluent in both Spanish and English.
She told me that Dr. Piña Chán had found the two books very interesting. He had cancelled his lunch appointment with a government bureaucrat and would like me to have lunch with him in his office so we could discuss the books further. Of course, I said yes, but was somewhat petrified. I was about to be a guest in the inner sanctum of one of the world’s great archaeological museums.
A Telenovela in Tepoztlan!
Continuing back to the main plot
As I walked through the door of Dr. Piña Chán’s private office, I was quite nervous, so it is a miracle that I remembered anything. However, immediately to the right of the door were light-colored oak shelves with the back of the shelves being a glass plate partition between his office and his secretary’s office. The shelves displayed some of the most famous ceramics in Mexico. Nearest to the door was a ceramic figurine from Southern Veracruz. To this day, her photo is on the cover of the official guidebook, sold to visitors at the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia!
I now know that the checkerboard pattern of her skirt indicates that she was from the people, who produced the Kaushete (Upper Creek) Migration Legend! I also now know that she is wearing the conical split river cane hat, that was typical of the Apalache and Upper Creeks, until the 1700s. This statue has even greater significance at the end of this episode.
A detailed account of my first meeting with Dr. Piña Chán can found in the video at the bottom of this article. He used the Socratic Method in teaching, which involved asking questions that students might not be able to answer, but caused them to think. Three events during that meeting are directly relevant to this series:
(1) Dr. Piña Chán was especially intrigued by the architecture and art at Etowah Mounds in Cartersville, GA. He asked me, “Ricardo, why did your Indians in Georgia make marble statues of Maya slaves?” He was referring to the two famous marble statues found in the bottom of Mound C at Etowah. Of course, Dr. Arthur Kelly, the supervisor of the Etowah dig, had not even thought of that question, but . . . it caused me to permanently recall an interview with Dr. Kelly at the Department of Anthropology offices at Georgia State University. Kelly was head of the anthropology program at the University of Georgia, but Georgia State students were working at the dig on the Chattahoochee River.
In February 1969, I interviewed for a small temporary job, involving the preparation of an ink line on Mylar plastic site plan of Site 9Fu14 on the Chattahoochee River in SW Metro Atlanta. Afterward, Kelly and two Georgia State professors showed me some ceramics, found on the Lower Chattahoochee River, which Kelly interpreted as being made in Mexico or being a copy of pottery made in Mexico. Since in 1969, I had zero knowledge of archaeological techniques and not much more of my Creek heritage, I would have forgotten this experience, had not Dr. Piña Chán raised the issue of migration from Mexico to the southeastern corner of North America.
(2) Much of the pottery made in Georgia between 400 BC and 1250 AD was decorated by stamping a carved wooden paddle against the, partially dried, damp clay. Dr. Piña Chán said that this technique, although beautiful, was definitely not a Mesoamerican tradition, but from somewhere far away (Peru). He added that this connection didn’t seem possible, however.
- Plain, shell-tempered redware pottery in Georgia was identical to the pottery made by Maya Commoners in Mexico.
- On the other hand, the elegant pottery made by the Lamar Culture in Georgia from roughly 1350 AD to 1700 AD was very similar to the pottery made by the Olmec Civilization and their descendants in southern Veracruz and western Tabasco.
(3) Dr. Piña Chán was also very interested in the mounds and artifacts from Moundville, AL. He said that it was obvious that the founders of this great town were from Mexico, but not the same ethnicity as the founders of Etula (Etowah Mounds). Probably, the commoners (Chickasaws) were a different people.
Again occurred one of those moments that is still imbedded in my mind like a digital video, stored in a computer. Dr. Piña Chán stood up from his office chair then turned around to his library and pulled out the book Las Toltecas by Roman Piña Chán! He motioned to Alejandra and me to pull our chairs over to his side of the desk so that we could view his book next to Sun Circles and Human Hands by the Fundaburk sisters of Alabama. He proceeded to astound us by showing that EVERY artistic symbol found on ceramics and engraved stone tablets at Moundville, Alabama could be found in the ceramics and architecture of Tula, the capital of the Toltecs. Some items, like the cups with skulls and bones on them . . . were identical in both cities!
Flash forward to April 2012
Things were getting crazier by the minute. I had written an article in my Architecture column in the National Examiner on the Maya New Year (December 21, 2011) in order to attract the interest of archaeology professors in the Track Rock Terrace Complex . . . in hope that one or more universities would want to study the half square mile archaeological site. I expected no more than maybe 1200 readers. Within a few days, the article had been republished in newspapers and internet sites around the world . . . even such places as Mongolia, Mozambique, Tahiti, plus many parts of Russia and China. I had been interviewed by all the major US TV networks, plus those in Mexico, the BBC, France and Scandinavia. Total readership in the world went well over 150 million. I expected any minute to start receiving architecture work again, so I could get into a house and no longer be homeless.
Instead, the Atlanta Journal Constitution was publishing a string of slanderous articles, quoting Georgia archaeologists, which made me sound like a hybrid of Snuffy Smith and the devil incarnate. In recent decades, it had been rare for the AJC to even have an article about an archaeological site. They had changed their focus to that of a tabloid . . . murders, horrendous car wrecks and politics.
Then slander appeared on a national scale. The Journal of American Institute of Archaeology featured an editorial by an anthropology professor at Oxford University in England, which literally ended with, “He is nothing, but an ignorant peon in the backward State of Georgia.”
Then I received an exciting email from man in the Athens, GA area, who introduced himself as a traveling salesman, who was very interested in archaeology. He said that friends of him and his wife lived near Track Rock Gap. Over the years, they had found many Mesoamerican type artifacts in their vegetable garden’s soil. He and his wife were going to visit the friends in Union County in near future to photograph the artifacts. In the meantime, he was going to find me speaking engagements in the Atlanta Area that would pay me for the appearance. That never happened.
At this point there were just two things that made me a little uncomfortable with this man. He never mentioned his wife except when talking about going somewhere with her. After about five exchanges of emails, I knew absolute nothing about her. That was odd because when straight American males make first contact with each other, the immediately interject information about their wife or girl friend . . . to make it clear that they are not gay males on the prowl.
About three weeks after the first email, the “Salesman from Athens” emailed me a series of photos that he said he had taken, while visiting his friends near Track Rock Gap. They were of potsherds (broken pottery) , obsidian blades and a painted bowl. He urged me to immediately post his photos in the Examiner for the world to see.
There was a major problem. The artifacts were indeed Mesoamerican, but the settings of the photos were definitely NOT the North Georgia Mountains. The soil and vegetation around most of the photos looked like where I was born . . . the Okefenokee Swamp. The bowl and some of the obsidian blades had a background of red clay and chalky white limestone . . . the northern Yucatan Peninsula. As explained in earlier articles and videos, I am exceedingly familiar with the terrain of the Yucatan Peninsula. The man was a fraud . . . so who really was he?
I sourced his emails. Most emails came from a Hewlett Packard laptop computer through a BellSouth internet server in Athens, GA. That checked out. The emails containing photos, however, came from a Dell desktop computer through a internet web and server computer on the Florida State University campus in Tallahassee, Florida! That explained why most photos looked like the natural landscape around the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. I emailed him back, saying that for liability protection reasons, the Examiner did not allow me to post photographs made by anyone, but myself.
There was a gap of silence for about three weeks, then the man emailed me again. He claimed to have just returned from his friends at Track Rock Gap. They had discovered a beautiful ceramic figurine, which was completely intact. He attached a photo of the figurine. He urged me to immediately contact the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, plus all the Atlanta TV stations, to schedule a press conference. He offered to drive up to Track Rock Gap to borrow the figurine and meet me at the press conference.
Oops! Yes, that is the same figurine that was on the shelf in Dr. Román Piña Chán’s office and also used as the cover art for the Guide to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia! Needless to say that I didn’t call a press conference and was terribly amused that whoever concocted this scheme never remotely considered the possibility that I had actually seen this figurine close up in Román Piña Chán’s inner sanctum.
In early April, someone at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian added the email address that I used while president of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association to the email list for the conspirators in Maya Myth-busting. From then on, I knew everything they were doing.
Just before the “salesman” emailed me the photo of the Veracruz figurine, Georgia archaeologists and professors were giddy with excitement. “That peon is going to royally screw himself in front of all the media in Atlanta. Immediately thereafter, the Maya thing will be dead, buried and forgotten.”
In June, two Georgia Creek students at the University of Georgia offered to be intelligence assets for me. They wormed their way into the group of anthropology professors involved with “Maya Myth-busting.” Of course, none of these anthropology professors knew what a Creek Indian looked like, so never guessed the ethnicity of these mixed-blood Creek students.
My female asset was especially effective. The “salesman” turned out to be a female ethnology professor, who hated men. The professor didn’t know diddlysquat about the Southeast’s Native American History and didn’t care. However, her girlfriend taught archaeology at Florida State University . . . which explains the photos sent from the FSU internet server.
It gets better. The ethnology professor was a member of the same cult that my ex-wife was in. My asset was invited to attend a cult ritual on a farm in rural Oconee County, GA. Pretending to be interested in the cult insured the girl getting an A in the ethnology professor’s class that semester. However, the Creek girl wisely decided to transfer to a Secondary Education major so she could get a job after graduation. She now teaches history at a high school in Macon, GA and is happily married . . . to a salesman.
During the week after the premier of “America Unearthed” on December 21, 2012, I sent an email to the Ethnology Professor – not the “salesman.” I informed her that about 15 years before she was born, I had personally seen the figurine supposedly found at Track Rock Gap in the office of the Curator of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia.
She should immediately contact the FBI and report it stolen. There was no response.
Now you know!
The following video will explain why and how I got to Mexico in the summer of 1970 and the events that occurred the first three weeks, I was there.