Early Guatemala Urban Planning,
Heavenly or Terrestrial?

by Siloam Ramesses

This is an exclusive report submitted to the Pacaritambo: The Machu Picchu Magazine, a newsletter of the City of Machu Picchu at AncientSites.com, all rights reserved.

In an essay on the Sacred City of Teotihuacán, Gateway of Gods, a case was made to demonstrate the alignment of an urban grid to the Milky Way. The assumption was that the sacred site would reveal the heavenly coordinates toward which the city planners were guiding the citizens who would call the new settlement home. As the essay indicates, there is an incredible metaphor associated with the urban grid alignment at Teotihuacán, which demonstrates the heart of the Mesoamerican mythology. It is a story which was told around the world and hidden in the great mythologies for over 10,000 years, and possibly 50,000 years.

Since that essay was written, significant new information has become available which substantially supports the hypothesis of galactic orientation of the people who first populated the Central America jungles.

Redshift Astronomy Program Global Coordinates
Urban planning coordinate orientations at the Southeast Pacific Coast can be estimated from figures adapted from Archaeological Survey in Santa Rosa 1996, and Survey in Jutiapa, Southeastern Pacific Guatemala, 1997, by Francisco Estrada Belli and Laura J. Kosakowsky of Boston University. To make a celestial orientation check we need to establish the global and celestial coordinates. The astronomy program, Redshift, allows for direct determination of the global coordinates shown here.

GPS data was acquired by William Poe of Sonoma State University in 1997 which provides significant numerical support for a Milky Way alignment of the urban grid at Ujuxte.

Ujuxte Urban Grid Axes

This data clearly shows that the urban grid was not oriented to immediately local real estate. The popular view of archaeologists is that the orientation is aligned with seasonal markers for solstices and equinoxes of stars or mountains. However, these concepts fail to explain the important find at the intersection of the two axes of Ujuxte.

Galactic Vessels?


Two pottery vessels were found buried on the intersection of the axes of Ujuxte. They were buried lip to lip. This strongly suggests that they represent the upper and lower regions of the galaxy. How they were buried may directly correlate with the galactic plane orientation, if the pottery vessels were buried with the plane of the lips on the 46 and 226 degree axis. Likewise a vertical burial would be a metaphor for the upper and lower worlds of the cosmos. This information may not be in the archaeological records. But is is a very safe bet that the pottery symbolize the upper and lower worlds of the whole universe at Ujuxte.




Ujuxte at origination of settlement.To understand this relationship we simply have to look toward the heavens to determine when the galaxy aligned to the 46/226 degree urban axis. The adjacent star chart shows a mirror image of the heavens for direct comparison with the terrestrial photograph. It shows that the urban grid at Ujuxte was aligned with the Milky Way when the original community was implemented around 1050 BC. These are not chance arrangements, and they indicate the direct importance of the Milky Way to the people of Ujuxte. Neither is this a unique urban grid alignment procedure, for many sacred sites around the world indicate galactic orientation. Modern archaeologists are not taught about the galactic importance for terrestrial navigation and mythological revival. A few recognize seasonal markers, but the "Big Picture" has been missed by most practicing archaeologists. This is not by intent, it is a result of the training of archaeologists in areas deemed important by the hierarchy of the established scientific community.

Galactic orientation provides much information about the city founders and the traditions they supported. With respect to the Central America communities, it is important to realize that this alignment puts the eagle and the serpent constellations at the zenith over Ujuxte. These creatures are still mascots of modern Mexico, inherited through the Aztecs. This celestial site was also chosen by the Egyptians as the foundation of the Valley of Kings in Thebes, over 5000 years ago. But, we should not look toward Egypt for the Mesoamerican tradition. The evidence of ritual mummification and sacred site initiation goes back 10,000 years in the Americas. The cultures of Egypt and the Americas saw the eagle-serpent location on the Milky Way as the gateway of the gods, and the location where spiritual life was symbolically renewed within the Big Picture of the Milky Way. It was important for living rituals as well as eternal domicile.  

Assuming that the galactic alignment is the appropriate urban grid design criteria, we can evaluate the effect of time on urban grids during the pre-classic Maya period. The angle of the galactic plane changes over a cycle of 26,000 years due to the wobble of the planet's axis.

Regression Analysis of Ujuxte Alignment

This graph indicates that changes in the Ujuxte area urban grid alignments to the Milky Way gave the pre-classic Maya a means to measure the relative movement of the galaxy due to the precessional wobble of the earth. The change in urban grid alignment was, and still is, nearly a linear relationship to the millennia. It also reveals a very valid reason to orient Teotihuacan to its 15.5/195.5 degree orientation. When stars over the Way of the Dead within Teotihuacan's urban grid align to the galaxy with the same stars which were over Ujuxte one thousand years before the Teotihuacan grid was laid out. But, there is an incredible correspondence. The alignment will not occur until approximately 4500 AD! That is four and a half millennia after the urban grid of Teotihuacan was laid out. The implication is that the Way of the Dead in the city of Teotihuacan was aligned in memory of the ancestors and the Gateway of Gods represented by the Eagle and the Serpent. Teotihuacan can still carry that sacred message for 2500 years.

This correspondence for the alignment of Teotihuacan is illustrated in the adjacent star chart. To date, no archaeoastronomer in the community of the university establishment has noted the importance of the galactic plane to Native Peoples. It is not clear why this obvious alignment has not been noted before. It probably has to do with biases in understanding of the Native cultures. Particularly the established academic belief that the ancient monumental activities were all based upon superstitious rituals. This attitude is changing, and it is clear that future archaeology in the Americas will have to begin to recognize that the ancient cities and their inhabitants had greater scientific knowledge about the heavens than our modern archaeologists have today.

Whatever the causes of war and prosperity within the Americas, it is clear that they had religious and scientific structures which substantially surpassed the "Old World" structures of Europe. This truth can only be blocked for so long, and eventually the scientifically minded professors in the ivory towers of our modern universities will have to recognize that they could learn something from a people who could tame the jungle.

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