Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Mayan Plate in Father Crespi's Gold Collection

Guest author Kim Basco. Edited by G. Jack Urso. Presentation produced and narrated by G. Jack Urso.


Born in 1891 in Italy, Father Carlos Crespi Croci was a Salesian Monk that spent his career in Cuenca, Ecuador from 1923 to 1982. At the University of Milan, he studied anthropology before becoming a priest. His many talents included being an educator, anthropologist, botanist, artist, explorer, cinematographer, humanitarian, as well as a musician. The kindness and benevolence he taught his congregation was such that they rewarded him with a number of ancient artifacts.

It is estimated that throughout his lengthy career, Father Crespi was given and/or purchased over 50,000 ancient artifacts. The items in particular that captured the fascination of the world were a number of plates and objects forged from gold with mysterious symbols and hieroglyphs. The villagers told Father Crespi that many of the artifacts were found inside a cave known as the Tayos Cave.

In the early 1970s, Erich Von Daniken published The Gold of the Gods in which he highlighted many of Father Crespi’s artifacts. Von Daniken made the claim that the collection included metal books showing proof that a lost civilization existed in ancient times that extraterrestrials helped to form. Many people fed into the belief that these artifacts were either extraterrestrial or were “out of place” with bizarre unknown scripts similar to Babylonian or Sumerian writing.

With the Vatican’s permission, Father Crespi opened a museum at the Salesian School at Cuenca. In July 1962, a fire broke out and the museum was destroyed. Father Crespi was able to salvage as much as possible and stored them in two long, narrow rooms. Items from Father Crespi’s collection included tablets, plates, doors, decorations, statues, pottery, jewelry, ancient weapons and war adornments. There were even three gold sarcophagus-like coffins. The artifacts were made of stone, wood, ceramic and metal. The metals were pure gold, sheet-gold, pure silver, sheet-silver, bronze, brass, copper, zinc, tin and sheet metal.

When Father Crespi passed away in 1982 what happened next only added to the mystery. His collection was removed. Investigators later discovered that it was purchased by the Central Bank of Ecuador and is currently stored in their museum vaults; however, none of the golden plates were shown to investigators, so it assumed they are lost. Others believe that either the Vatican has them, the local Government, or another rumor is that they were melted down and used for military funds. All that remains is the photographic evidence. Some people believe that the collection either never existed or was a fake.

The truth is that there is a golden plate within Father Crespi’s collection that has been overlooked but is undeniable proof that the origins of the plate are absolutely regional. The plate was not created or influenced by extraterrestrials or other cultures outside of Mesoamerica. Finally, after all of this time a connection has been made between the Crespi Gold Collection and the Mayan hieroglyphs.

The Mayan Empire was located in what is now Guatemala. Its greatest influence was reached in the Sixth Century A.D. The Maya had advanced knowledge of architecture, agriculture, art, calendar-making, math, pottery, and hieroglyphic writing. For reasons not yet fully understood, most of the Maya deserted their cities by 900 A.D. To this day, historians argue over the reasons for the fall of the Mayan Empire.

Why has it taken so long for this one plate to be recognized for what it is? The main reason perhaps is because the plate is never shown to be in the proper position. In order to be connected back to its native language, the plate needs to be in the position as shown in these images. Also, when the Spanish conquered Mesoamerica one of the goals was to eliminate the history of the indigenous peoples. By taking away their historical identity the Spanish succeeded in convincing the world that the Mesoamerica had no education or cultural value before the Spaniard’s arrival.

In recent times however, archaeologists and anthropologists have gained a great understanding and respect for early Mesoamerican civilizations. We know today that many Mesoamerican cultures that existed in modern times were very advanced and modern researchers still struggle to decipher their architecture, artwork, and writing systems.
Fig. 1: Transcription of Mayan Symbols from the Father Crespi Gold Collection
Every glyph on this plate (see Fig. 1) can be found in the key provided by Bishop Landa who was a part of later Spanish rule in Mesoamerica. There are mild variants between a couple of the glyphs on the gold plate and Bishop Landa’s key; however, it is widely known that the Maya often used many designs and variations for the same syllable or word.

Is this to say that all of Father Crespi’s artifacts were Mayan in nature? That is doubtful. The plates appear to be a compilation of different scripts that more than likely existed throughout the region. Perhaps the Tayos Cave served as the ancient school for scribes as well as for the art of metallurgy.

It is possible that the Mesoamerica people hid these valuable historical artifacts so that the Spaniards would not be able to confiscate them. It is uncanny how much of Bishop’s Landa’s key appears on the gold plate itself. Perhaps, there were some Spaniards who hid some of the gold away either because they recognized the historical value of the plates, or for greed with the intent to recover them later but never did.

The last plausible explanation for such an accumulation of varied historical metal artifacts is that they were brought there by floodwaters. Central and South America are subject to monsoons so perhaps the caves are the lowest level point in the region in which floodwaters deposit various materials. Gold, being a heavy metal, will sink to the lowest level the first chance it gets. Copper and silver are also heavy metals. 

We will never know how they got there or where they went after Father Crespi passed away, but now, at least, there is a solid connection to the Mayan culture.
 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Great Comet Crash PBS Special (1994)

by G. Jack Urso
 

Live special from July 1994 featuring images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope as the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collides with Jupiter. Also included is commentary about the event from scientists and artists. Hosted by Terry Gross, of the long-running Fresh Air on WHYY-FM (WHYY also produced the show). This program was broadcast live at the time of the reception of the first images of the impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter. The show also features an early appearance of Bill Nye the Science Guy. You have to be a real astronomy geek to appreciate this, but count me in right down to my Boy Scout astronomy merit badge from the summer of 1977 at Stratton Mountain Scout Reservation, Vt.

Originally recorded by myself on the evening of the broadcast and posted from my personal archives to the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel:
 

San Francisco Scene (The Beat Generation) - Jack Kerouac

by G. Jack Urso

 
In 1959, Jack Kerouac recorded a frantic prose sketch that was later included in his novel Desolation Angels, published in 1965. In a brilliant example of his stream-of-consciousness approach, Kerouac frenetically paints a portrait of a Jazz session then segues into a description of poet Herbert Huncke  whom Kerouac credited as introducing him to the phrase “I’m beat,” which somehow evoked the essence of the first major post-World War II countercultural movement. Kerouac ends his brief visit to the Beat scene with the odd juxtaposition of a 12 year old drummer in the adult underworld. He leaves us, here in 1959 as the Beat Movement nears its peak, with a question to his audience: "What will happen?" What indeed Mr. Kerouac. What indeed.

Available on Volume One of Rhino Record’s The Beat Generation (1992) and posted from my personal archives to the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel:


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