|Witte Museum - South Texas Heritage Center|
|Stelae or hearthstones|
|Stelae in the Maya exhibit|
We learned this today as tourists in San Antonio. Our destination? The Witte Museum.
"Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed" is the largest traveling exhibition about the Maya ever to be toured in the United States. The Maya wove together politics, commerce, astronomy, agriculture and a deep belief in a spiritual world.
Maize played a large role in the lives of Mayans as it was a primary food source. The Mayan calendar also had a leading role in their lives. Their Tzolk'in calendar is 260 days long which is the length of a pregnancy. Dates and times for rituals and ceremonies were planned using this calendar. In addition, two other calendars were used in conjunction with the Tzolk'in calendar.
The Maya were master builders as evidenced by the many ruins in Mesoamerica. The elite lived in palaces in and around city centers, while commoners' homes were spread across the countryside. Reservoirs captured water and agricultural terraces bore crops that fed large populations. Road networks tied cities together, allowing people and goods to be moved between them. [The information above is from the Mayan exhibit at the Witte Museum.]
The exhibit was very interesting. Bob and I commented it would have been good to see this exhibit before we took our cruise to Mexico, Belize and Honduras. When we saw the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Lamanai we would have had a better understanding of their culture.
While we were on our tour in Lamanai, our tour guide told us of many undiscovered Mayan ruins. New technology using airborne laser sensors, called Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging), is helping to reveal where more sites are located. Part of the Maya exhibit explained how Lidar is helping scientists find more sites.
From the "Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed" exhibit we headed to another gallery in the South Texas Heritage Center to see photos of all the range drivers that were a part of Texas history. There were even some of their charges looking down on us.
A very interesting exhibit was "Mapping Texas: From Frontier to the Lone Star State." I love reading maps. This particular collection is such an evolution of the way people explored and put on paper what they saw. One map, for example, highlighted all the rivers. If you think about it, rivers were the major highways for people and commerce before roads were built. Another map showed all the forts in the United States.
I learned that Gen. Stephen Austin was one of the first Texas mapmakers. He is also called the "Father of Modern Texas."
The map below shows Bexar County with Fort Alamo just above the center. You can see the San Antonio, Medina, Guadalupe, Cibolo and other rivers on this map. Rivers were important for water in this hot climate. Many of these rivers start as springs coming out of the Edwards Plateau aquifer, a good source of clean, cool water.
From the Mapping Texas exhibit, we made our way upstairs to "A Wild and Vivid Land: Stories of South Texas." Here we learned it was Canary Islanders who set up the grid system of streets in downtown San Antonio. Odds and ends of information about San Antonio and Texas are on display here. A small room is dedicated to O. Scott Petty, a geophysicist who invented a device, an electrostatic seismograph detector, that could find deposits of petroleum by picking up vibrations in the earth.
|Me at one of the exhibits in the Witte Museum|
|Explanation of Farm-to-Market roads|
|Beautiful tile art|
|"Trail Drivers" by Gutzon Borglum|
|Map showing timeline of horse history in North America|
|"Indians Pursued" by Gutzon Borglum|
|About Gutzon Borglum|
|Pouches were used because they had no pockets|
|Ghost Dance Dress, 1890|
The Ghost Dance Dress above was taken from a Lakota woman killed at Wounded Knee and is being exhibited as a reminder of the tragedy that occurred that cold winter day in 1890. The Witte Museum is honoring the request of Chief Oliver Red Cloud.
Below are Navajo Yeibechai, spiritual beings who communicate with the gods. They aid in medicine ceremonies and other religious events. There are six male and six female Yeibechai dancers, a leader, and the clown or trickster. Sand paintings for healing are accompanied by ceremonies performed by the Yeibechai.
Below are bags used to carry pipes, and supplies for smoking ceremonies.
From the main Witte building, we made our way outside to see a couple of outdoor exhibits. We found a marker indicating that San Antonio is in Flash Flood Alley. The sign says we can find more information on the second floor of the H-E-B Science Treehouse. We looked and apparently there is no longer a Flash Flood Alley display. We were disappointed that they no longer had it. Even the docent didn't know about it. He said the sign outside must have old information.
The H-E-B Science Treehouse building was somewhat interesting. There were exhibits where you could get some exercise and others to learn about your bodily functions. The exhibit Bob and I liked was the one that took a photo of your body heat signature. Check out the photo below. Are we a couple of hotties, or what? LOL.
Today we learned a lot and wore our brains out. We had one more thing to do...go shopping (at H-E-B Central Market and Bed, Bath and Beyond). After we bought our groceries, we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to see if they had the Ninja Magic Bullet. We wore our Magic Bullet out making smoothies every morning. (A big thank you to Kimmie who gave us our Magic Bullet a few years ago. Kimmie, we have used it a lot!) BB and B had the Magic Bullet, so we were in and out of the store in about five minutes with our new Ninja.
Now it's late and I must get some sleep. Nighty night!