Introduction: Cities of the Sky (02:21)
Five hundred years ago, 100 million American Natives are connected by infrastructure and beliefs; some perform ritual human sacrifices. They develop math, writing, science, and religion systems, built into their cities. Large and celestially aligned Cahokia boasts one of the biggest pyramids in world.
Connected to Sky (04:39)
Choctaw discuss the unusual knoll near Saint Louis, describing its energy; their ancestors constructed the ten story hill 1000 years ago. It is surrounded by hundreds of smaller mounds forming a metropolis; in 1100, 30,000 people lived in Cahokia. Astronomically aligned structures, religious artifacts, and human sacrifice indicate the culture migrated with Mesoamericans. (Credits)
Mounds in Mexico (03:22)
Two thousand years ago, celestial Teotihuacan city is populated with 125,000, and covers eight square miles, with the massive Sun Pyramid at its center. Nawa Sugiyama excavates an observation platform overlooking a ritual plaza. She and David Carrasco examine the Moon Pyramid; he compares the structures to surrounding mountains.
Stargazing Roots (04:46)
Around 11,000 BCE, Amazonians record astronomical events on a cliff face; their transformation of mountain to calendar is reflected by later celestial city designs. See a diagram explaining coordination of Teotihuacan construction. Carrasco explains the creation story of the gods' sacrifices, which required reciprocation; see an animated depiction of Fire Ceremony.
Recovering Culture (03:00)
Pilgrimaging stargazers may explain Cahokia's inception; there are over 10,000 sacred mounds across eastern North America. In the 1840s, Choctaw were removed from Mississippi; they recently regained control of Nanih Waiya. Lew Williston and Norma Hickman discuss its spiritual significance; she relays the legend of the shaman's daily ceremonies honoring the sun.
Autumn Feast (05:16)
Hear the legend of a goddess repaying hunters' kindness with corn; her statues have been excavated at Mississippi mounds. Cahokia is designed for sky worship; archaeologist Timothy Pauketat finds remnants of cedar posts functioning as a solar calendar. Artifacts indicate people came from great distances for ceremonies.
Discovering Cuzco (03:13)
In the 1400s, twelve million populate the Incan empire spreading across western South America; it is connected with a solar inspired network marked by huacas. Noa Corcoran Tadd maps them to Cuzco, and sacred Coricancha; hear legend of Inti assigning a quest to find the city's location.
Solar Empire (04:22)
Spanish destroy most of the Sun Temple and other huacas in the 1500s, but record their locations; 42 lines radiate from Coricancha forming a ceremonial network. Shaman Puma explains activating energy through ritual; see him worship and leave offerings at a sacred marker. Portions of the system were converted to 2500 miles of road.
Precisely Mispositioned (02:49)
At Cahokia, archaeologists study the urban plan by three dimensionally mapping with drone lasers; mounds are aligned with a roadway leading to the largest of them. The city is five degrees off north, uncharacteristic of celestial cities.
Recognizing Other Gods (04:35)
The astronomically advanced Maya flourish from 100 to 900AD; Uxmal Site Director Jose Huchim Herrera explains city construction and sun worship. The ornate governor's palace is built 15 degrees off grid, and covered by thousands of glyphs. Art Historian Mary Miller discovers repetition of the Rain God character representing Venus.
Sky Governing (02:47)
Miller investigates Mayan Bonampak murals depicting kings engaged in ritual torture and sacrifice of prisoners of war; infrared photographs reveal constellation glyphs above captives. She assesses the rituals coordinated with stars.
Sacrificial Site (04:56)
Pauketat and Kristin Hedman examine Cahokia mound 72, the mass burial site of 53 young women sacrificed simultaneously; Hedman hypothesizes they were offered in a fertility ritual. Native traditions connect females with the moon, which has monthly and 18 year cycles.
Ultimate Celestial City (06:45)
Cahokia practice human sacrifice and astronomy. The city grid is five degrees off north; Pauketat reexamines the layout, mapping sun and moon extremes forming a precisely aligned rectangle. Festivals celebrating the sun and moon attract thousands of pilgrims; Williston performs a fire lighting ceremony at a Choctaw reunion.
Summary and Credits: Cities of the Sky (00:34)
Summary and Credits: Cities of the Sky
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