Museums of Anthropology – Antiquities Renovation Campaign (ARC)

National Museum of Anthropology

When you make an arch you use framework to keep all the bricks in place until you install the keystone – the piece in the center that keep it all together – then you smash away the framework and, as if by magic, all you see is the self-supporting arch. The metaphor is used to illustrate theories on the beginning of life: there was some kind of system or framework (for example crystal substances)  that helped evolve DNA replication but disappeared as soon as  the beautiful arch of Gaian life spread around the world. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that renovating structures from the antiquities, repairing Stonehenge or redecorating Teotihuacan would be like reconstructing some of that framework to see how humanity arrived here today.

(The Ark is also the fabled ship spoken of by cultures all over the world. The ship that carried humanity safe during an apocalyptic moment of destruction.But that’s another story).

Maya Sculpture

For the moment, we’re at the Mexican National Museum of Anthropology.

Mayan wall relief

Hmm. Standard kind of layout starting with models of naked little men trying to kill a mammoth and ending up at the magnificent sculptures of the Aztecs. Most stunning are the replicas of  pieces of Mayan pyramids that gave us a foretaste, hopefully, of things to come as we’ll soon be in the Mayan heartlands, in South Mexico, Yucatan and Guatemala.

Teotihuacan Sculpture Replica

But the Campaign to Renovate Antiquities (CRA) thing comes out into conscious thought when viewing replicas of what the Teotihuacan pyramids would have looked like. You know, the impressive set of stones that we saw last week – imagine if they had been renovated to look like the magnificent replica that they had in the museum, towering red temples decorated with hundreds of alien gods and creatures…

The arguments against doing so are kind of obvious – we should touch as little way as possible the original stones. And there is a danger that if you repair Stonehenge and reclad Teotihuacan, then hordes of tourists will come here expecting people dressed up and re-enactment, hot-dog bars, places to sit down and it’s all fucking Disney-Land over again. Build your Disney-Land if you want but leave untouched the original stones, man.

The arguments for such renovation are less overt, however. There is the metaphor of the arch-building at the top of this post for example. Here is another illustration about that other structure lost from time, Stonehenge, that is crying out for renovation (indeed it has already been renovated a few times but possibly never finished); there is the latest spot of research (possibly wacky, I haven’t checked, but this is only an example anyway) that Stonehenge’s stones were arranged on a pattern resembling certain aural characteristics (i.e. the way sound waves reinforce or cancel each other out) – very basically, if a piper was blowing away in the center then, for the listener, the volume of the sound would increase and decrease in a circular pattern – strikingly similar (apparently) to where the stones are (or were or would be) standing. The argument for renovation would point to this theory and say; there, we would never know the reality of that proposition until we reconstruct the Henge how it was.

The same applies to the wonderful possibilities of seeing the Teotihuacan complex in something like its original splendor (what we know of it) – archeologists spend time wondering about the significance of the structures – there was no language discovered to even name anything correctly, even less to understand the inhabitants motives and ideas. An enormous clue, though, would be provided by renovating, however: Untold information could be gleaned from completing the hidden stories that they built – maybe astronomical significance, maybe shadows creep their way across the terraces, maybe the gloriously fearsome structure at sunset itself would inspire the appropriate responses in the visitor…

These are mysterious, old things – most of them built, if not by unknown civilizations, then by civilizations acting for unknown reasons – if we should ever have any chance to understand them and reconnect with their thinking, (thereby understanding our own evolution and better-guessing the future), then we should mimic their physical efforts and reconstruct.


Anyway, big up to the national Museum of Anthropology for at least doing a couple of replicas and generally educating the people. As you may or may not know all Museums in Mexico City are free on Sunday. They are also very busy on Sundays. This all proved to be the case the week before at the National Art Museum but if you’re sufficiently non-Mexican looking then you’ll be asked to pay the normal price of two quid unless you have proof that you’re a resident. Given that tourists, as much as anyone, should pay something in tax toward the common good, there must be nicer ways of doing it then basing the payment on skin-color and Spanish language control.


Anthrpology display

Prehistoric indiginous peoples of Mexico display

Outside the museum is an event in itself – loads of people and families; fast-food and fruit stalls; Replica Aztec Drumming, Dancing and Shamanistic New Age Blessing Ritual; non-replica Hari Krishnas doing their thing and feeding hundreds for free close by in the park – and the mighty Velodores who do a replica of an ancient ritual that is pretty impressive and even looks authentic if you blur your vision a little to obscure the fact they look a bit like Morris-dancers up to some mischief but rapidly re-approaching sobriety. I dunno, they could try and look a bit less bored about doing it a hundred times a day – maybe let some other people have a go (for a cut in the enormous takings they take from the spectacle-hungry crowd). And, of course, one other activity to be undertaken outside of the Museum; getting interviewed by some kid who has to do some foreigners for their English class. Beware! They got Dunia both times we were in the area and we saw many a group of tourists being hassled by posh kids accompanied by their parents (floating around, prompting the shy ones and video recording the thing for evidence in future litigation with the school when their brat completely fails or something).

Shaman blessing ritual, DF, Mexico

Hari Krishna ceremony, DF, Mexico

The thought does come to mind of starting up the old child-sacrifice thing at any resurrected ancient temple…

Interview by school children on assignment, DF, Mexico

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