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Lost Kingdoms of Central America - Chiriqui et al

 
Author Solivagant
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 10 Sep 2014 02:46 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Another BBC series by the hyperactive Dr Jago Cooper - Curator of the Americas at the British Museum. Following his series on the Lost Kingdoms of SOUTH America he now moves on to CENTRAL America.

He starts with the Olmecs but perhaps of more "WHS interest" will be episode 2 which covers the Chiriqui in Costa Rica. I can't yet find the subjects of episodes 3 and 4. Episodes 1 and 2 are broadcast on Sep 15 and 22 with repeats and short term BBC iPlayer availability I expect. No doubt they will appear on YouTube sometime!

The advance puff for the Chiriqui program is annoyingly thin but, from the following link which refers to "stone spheres", and short clips covering the whole series, it hopefully will provide background to Costa Rica's recent new inscription "Stone Spheres of the Diquis"!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/corporate2/mediacentre/proginfo/2014/38/lost-kingdoms

PS In following up the Chiriqui on the Web I came across this book "Gold and Power in Ancient Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia (Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Conference Proceedings)" which contains interesting information on Trans-isthmus civilisations including, specifically, the Diquis area and its stone spheres etc. The following Google book extract is only partial but still reasonably comprehensive and comprehensible. If you want to buy it from Amazon in full it will cost you $346.38 from Amazon.com and an eye-watering £2499.50 from Amazon.co.uk!!!!
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JOKITNcYZUIC&pg=PA205&lpg=PA205&dq=chiriqui+archae ology+costa+rica&source=bl&ots=I_mO8c39M8&sig=WpyHDXIbXoLUKR-AVtU-fCI3E_c&hl=en&sa=X& ei=vQ8QVOXyF4jgaIG1gLgC&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=chiriqui%20archaeology%20costa%20 rica&f=false

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 10 Sep 2014 13:38 
I heard a promo for this on the way to the airport this morning, I assumed it was a radio series. I was getting excited about that, but I'm sure this will be worthwhile. The Mexican galleries have become my go to place at the British Museum in the last few years, so hopefully this can build on that due to his links.

Author elsslots
Admin
#3 | Posted: 15 Sep 2014 05:32 
According to http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/themes/lost_kingdoms_central_america.aspx, the subjects of episode 3 and 4 will be Taíno and Teotihuacan

Author elsslots
Admin
#4 | Posted: 16 Sep 2014 00:54 
I saw the first episode last night (about the Olmec), very worthwhile. Although the presenter is a bit of a narcissist. Looking forward to the one about the lesser known Chiriqui.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#5 | Posted: 16 Sep 2014 03:23 | Edited by: Solivagant 
elsslots:
Although the presenter is a bit of a narcissist

Yes the "Archaeologist as he-man"!!
Gone are the days of your intellectual wimpish archaeologist - I switch between annoyance and amusement at his antics. There is no jungle too thick that he can't cut through with his machete, no road too rough that he can't drive through with his 4x 4, no cave too deep that he can't get into with his miner's lamp, no climb too steep that he can't leap up to, no river too remote that he can't navigate his boat along.
Some rocks we need to see which are surrounded by some (small) tufts of grass? With an on-camera machete swish here and an on-camera machete swish there they are revealed in their pristine glory for all of us to see. Want to show what the inside of a squash looks like? With a kung fu swish of his machete it is decapitated. Want to demonstrate the on going significance of the Meso-american Ball game? Our he man dons his kit and shows those Mexicans how to play soccer!!
His camera crew, sound man and producer (not to mention his team of Mexican "fixers" and their own 4x4s!) must follow in rapt amazement as he leads them ever further into the heart of darkness!!

Author elsslots
Admin
#6 | Posted: 16 Sep 2014 04:32 
Solivagant:
no climb too steep that he can't leap up to

That fragment was particularly over-the-top, jumping up the last stair of a pyramid. And those machete-actions...

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#7 | Posted: 16 Sep 2014 05:30 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
We had the same reaction. On the whole it was a very enjoyable and informative show, I was amazed that the rubber balls still existed, and it was a very thorough introduction.

The football part seemed needlessly crow-bared in (at least he seemed to have played football before), the machete antics laughable and quite why we had to see him taking photos of all the sculptures on his DSLR camera I'm not sure.

All in a good introduction though in spite of the presenters antics.

Author elsslots
Admin
#8 | Posted: 24 Sep 2014 12:13 | Edited by: elsslots 
Did someone see the 2nd show last Monday? It was about the Taino, but I fell asleep after the first 5 minutes and only woke up to see the last 10 minutes! (which has more to do with my own schedule than with the show)

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#9 | Posted: 24 Sep 2014 13:23 | Edited by: Solivagant 
elsslots:
Did someone see the 2nd show last Monday? It was about the Taino


Yes for some reason the Taino episode was aired rather than the previously indicated Chririqui one.

He started with a fair bit of tree hacking with his machete in order to climb a mountain in Santo Domingo for a cave with Taino paintings. Later however it became more of visit to musea (or at least to back room with skulls, bones and small artifacts still in boxes) both in the Dominican Republic and in Puerto Rico (PR). The sites on Santo Domingo were wood/thatch so not a lot to see - other than small artifacts and conch shell middens! There was a lot of mystical philosophising about their possible beliefs. He met his old Caribbean Archaeology teacher in PR, found a few people with Taino genes there and "communed" with them on their beliefs/watched their dancing. I was left with the question as to how much all of this was "authentic" and how much "created" post facto rather like Victorian "druids" created their rituals! He did refer to Spanish records of early contacts but we were never shown these or taken through them and I was still left feeling rather as I did when watching Easter Islanders "do" their "Polynesian dancing" - Disneyfication??

One aspect of interest in a WHS sense was his visit to the Taino site of Caguana which was placed 109th in our list of Top 50 missing sites (I have visited it in PR but didn't vote for it even though I feel it should be on the list in order to "represent" Caribbean pre-Columbian cultures)

Another WHS related aspect was his visit to the first Spanish settlement in the Americas which is on the Dominican Republic's T List at La Isabela - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Isabela . It was interesting to see the Taino artefacts being excavated with the Spanish ones and to hear a little about those very early contacts. I was surpsied also to see the "Taino" people in PR and to hear that c 60% (???) of the population of PR carry Taino gene markers - would have liked to know much more about this and how "pure" any of these really are regarding European/African admixture. I always think of Dominica and the so-called "Carib" villages there with much the same question . On that matter he failed to relate the Taino to groups we know as "Arawak" and "Carib" other than to say that Arawak was a sort of lingua franca across the islands where a great deal of trade and intermarriage etc was taking place in pre-Columbian times. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_Caribs

Caguana not withstanding he obviously lacked the "wow factor" sites of the Olmec and (to come) Teotihuacan - we will have to see about the Chiriqui - I guess he will go to Guayabo as well (which I have also visited) even though i have never seen it claimed as "Chiriqui" - indeed I have never seen it assigned to any pre-Columbian group/culture/civilisation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guayabo_National_Monument

Generally I enjoyed the program as shedding some light (for me at least!!) on a culture I know little about.

Author elsslots
Admin
#10 | Posted: 24 Sep 2014 13:33 
Solivagant:
a culture I know little about

My focus area during my History degree was Caribbean history, but even there very little attention was paid to the Taino. Caribbean history is much about various waves of migration.

Will try to find a rerun or video to watch this episode.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#11 | Posted: 24 Sep 2014 13:47 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Solivagant:
I was left with the question as to how much all of this was "authentic"


Have just been stimulated to read the Wiki entry on Taino - has a section on "Taino Heritage in Modern times" which addresses some of the questions which had come to my mind about authenticity, genetic heritage etc etc. Worth reading as an intro
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ta%C3%ADno#Ta.C3.ADno_heritage_in_modern_times

I was pleased to see that this article refers to the Taino ball game - it wasn't mentioned at all in the program and I was beginning to think that my belief that I had seen a ball court in PR was mistaken!!

PS. This episode is broadcast as a repeat tomorrow (Friday) evening at 22.00 British Standard Time on BBC4 - Els, you have direct access to BBC broadcasts so you don't need BBC iPlayer for this

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#12 | Posted: 24 Sep 2014 17:19 
I only caught the end, and was left confused as it didn't seem to be related to Costa Rica as scheduled. So that makes sense now.

A search for "Lost Kingdoms of Central America watch online" turns up a fair few useable links if anyone out there doesn't have access to the BBC.

I must admit this was the one I was least looking forward to but perhaps that is the best reason to watch it. Will try and catch up this week.

WHS in the media www.worldheritagesite.org Forum / WHS in the media /
 Lost Kingdoms of Central America - Chiriqui et al

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