zapotec

FIC: Infodere Ch 2

This story was formerly know as Lost Treasure of the Zapotec but I hated that title so in the thousand years that have elapsed since chapter 1, I have changed it. Hope no one minds.

Hope you enjoy this one and chapter 1 can be found here for those that haven’t read it 



Her back arched at the sensation. Hair like fire tickled her thighs. She gasped as strong hands grasped her under her hips lifting her towards his mouth, her breath coming in gasps. His tongue worked gently but persistently and she could feel the muscles of her stomach and thighs tighten as her climax built. One of his hand reached up and caressed her breast and she brought a hand down and ran it through the red hair.

A loud crash jerked Claire awake. She blinked dazed and struggled to sit up. She was breathing heavily, sheened in sweat which wasn’t entirely to do with the tropical heat. She looked around as she realized where she was and who exactly the red hair and wandering hands belonged to. She blushed further when she realized that all that separated her from the man in her dream was two thin walls of canvas and six inches of grass between the tents. Pulling herself together she grabbed a pair of sweatpants and dragged them on, as she headed out to investigate the commotion.

Running across the clearing to where a crowd had begun to gather, she pushed her way to the front. One of the equipment trailers, which had arrived with the last of the convoy at dusk and had therefore not yet been unloaded had been forced open and some of its contents were flung about. Only the top layer seemed to be disturbed however.

“Wi’ the racket they were making, they’d no have any time to really find whatever it is they were looking for. What’s in this trailer, Sassenach?” Jamie turned to her in question and it took her a moment to realise he meant her.

“Oh, erm, this one..” She shone a torch into the trailer “Reference materials mostly. Dr Moreno’s stuff from the university.” She was referring to the cultural anthropologist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who along with Jamie, Claire and a physical anthropologist, Dr Zapote, made up the senior team overseeing the dig.

“Maybe they thought there was something else in her?” She wondered out loud. Jamie made a Mmmmph noise in the back of his throat and Claire fought the urge to laugh at such a thoroughly Scottish sound here in the middle of the Mexican rain forest, surrounded by the remains of another, very different culture.

“Well, we’ll lock this up the best we can and I’ll maybe talk to the camp manager in the morning about having some extra security here at night.”

Claire made her way back to her tent and laid there in the dark listening to the sounds of the camp. She heard Jamie come back to his own tent sometime later. She could him him rustling around as he undressed and her stomach flipped slightly.

“Damn it, Beauchamp” she murmured into the dark turning on her side

Breakfast had been eaten and after several hours of frantic activity which involved the arrival of the archeology students from the local university who would along with a group of interns do the majority of the actual digging and cataloguing, and Dr Zapote the physical anthropologist they gathered for a site briefing before the dig began in earnest.

“Okay,” Claire’s voice was clear and rang out across the clearing. Jamie leaned against a trailer drinking coffee and watching her. “We need to lay out some very strict rules for this dig. This is an area of immense cultural significance to the indigenous community. We have been invited here. Very strict protocols must be observed when it comes to the excavations. First up, nothing bigger than the palm of your hand comes out of the ground without running it by Dr Moreno or one of his team. They will decide if it needs special handling or if it is not appropriate for it to be handled by someone outside the Zapotec community. You photograph, document and only when you have permission do you bring it out of the ground. “ Claire looked around the assembled group, catching eyes and trying to impress the importance of her words. “This goes double if you find human remains. We have no idea what this area was used for. As a result in the case of any bones, photograph, document and haul ass to Dr Zapote, here. He and his team will make all decisions about how these finds should be treated. There are to be no exceptions to this. This might make this dig slower than some that you might have worked on, but ethics are important in archaeology, as is the understanding that we show respect to the past.”

She continued, introducing the various team leaders, outlining protocols and assigning teams. She was lovely, but there was something slightly ferocious about her, something wild and untamed. She fascinated Jamie more than any other woman he had ever met. It wasn’t just her intellect, formidable though it was. As an academic her knew any number of intensely gifted women, his last girlfriend, Geneva had been a highly published sociologist, but Claire was different. His reaction to her at first meeting had caught him off kilter.

“Dr Fraser?” He started as he realised she was looking at him along with 65 archaeologists, 8 technicians, 4 physical anthropologists and cultural anthropologist. He shook his head.

“Sorry, could you just repeat that, Dr Beauchamp?”

Claire rolled her eyes a little but she was smiling.

“I said, would you like to explain our documentation and classification process?”

“Oh aye, sorry.” He stepped forward then, explaining the paperwork that should be completed for the different artefacts and how they should be then packed for shipping to the museum in Mexico City.

By the end of the week the first trench had been dug and a significant number of small items recovered. So far they had found the usual expected items, pottery, household items and a smattering of jewellery, but they boded well for more significant finds to come. The camp sat scattered across the clearing in sociable groups, chatter in Spanish, Portuguese and English drifting through the air. Jamie sat down next to Claire on ground close to their tents. He held out a bottle of beer to her and she took it with a nod of thanks.

“You happy with the finds?” he asked?

Claire nodded as she took a swig of beer.

“I think so. There was definitely something here beyond just the pyramid, but what we’ve found so far don’t really tell us much more than that. I’m hoping the second trench will give us some structures, or at least some slightly more quantifiable artefacts. We only have a limited permit to dig here and without some significant finds it will be hard to justify our presence. There are plenty who don’t want excavations here. Its why the protocols matter so much.”

“Aye, and then there’s the legends?” Claire laughed slightly at this and chinked her bottle against his.

“The great lost treasures. Ha. Those stories are just that. If anyone seriously believed those stories someone would have dug here long before now, permits or not. There were plenty of people with less scruples about desecrating indigenous sites in the past. Our knowledge of the past is practically founded on it.” Her voice was wry and she pulled a slight face at this.

“True” He replied, slowly. “And there still are.” Claire followed his gaze towards the trailer that had been broken open a week earlier.

“You can’t seriously think…?” she practically stuttered in her incredulity. “That people might actually think…? That we ‘know’ something? Oh God that is too ridiculous, we are a serious fieldwork team not Indiana Jones style treasure hunters. God…”

“Aye, Sassenach.” was his measured response. “We ken that, but there might be others that don’t. Most people dinna realise that 90% of archaeology is digging up wee bit of pottery and trying to glue them back together. How many times have ye been asked if you’re like Lara Croft?” Claire threw her head back and laughed at this statement.

“Honestly, more than once. And I bet you get the Indiana Jones thing all the time don’t you?” She was grinning at him now. “Especially in that hat.” She nudged him cheekily in the ribs and he nudged her back. They stayed like that for a moment, both leaning against the other, savouring the warmth of the person next to them as the night cooled, both overcome with how *right* it felt. Almost without thinking Claire shifted slightly bringing her body closer to Jamie’s so that they were flush along their sides and rested her head on his shoulder. Jamie shifted in time, his arm coming round her back, bringing her close to him. Neither of them spoke, they just looked out over the camp, watching the lamps sway in the gloaming light. A shriek of laughter from the group nearest to them made them both jump and made them suddenly aware of their intimacy. Jamie turned to Claire, meaning to apologise but instead found her mouth against his. Without hesitation he returned her kiss, the heat of her lips and tongue making his stomach flip. His hands ran across her back as hers came up around his neck pulling him closer to her as she bit his lip gently. She leaned back pulling her down with him onto the grass.

“Jamie” she murmured against his neck as she moved down and kissed his throat. “Jamie”

It had been dark in that part of the camp, neither had brought a lamp when they sat down and the nearest group was far enough away that the light did not reach them. They could have been alone in the world as he kissed her, and she kissed him in the darkness.

She didn’t know what had prompted her to do it. Claire was not one for kissing men for no good reason, especially ones that she had to live in very close proximity for the next few months. But there was something about him that defied her conscious thought. She hadn’t planned to kiss him, she hadn’t even realised she was going to kiss him until the moment their lips met and it was too late by then. The weight of him above her as they kissed felt like home and his soft kisses with a hint of promise made her blood pound in her ears.

But then suddenly he was gone. He was on his feet and pulling her to hers. Light flashed around them as a row of tents went up in flames. Jamie went to move towards the commotion when gun shots rang out. Quickly changing course he turned and headed into the cover of the rainforest dragging Claire behind him. He came to a stop about 200 metres from the camp, so suddenly that they collided. The forest around them was full of people fleeing and screaming. Claire looked towards the camp and saw the main tent catch fire. She made to run towards it,  but Jamie caught her arm.

“No, mo nighean donn” he murmured into her ear, holding her close to his body both in protection and restraint.

“But the equipment,  the finds…” She was twisting in his arms trying to free herself but she could not overpower him. He pulled her closer murmuring comforting sounds into her ear, in what she guessed was Gaelic, And around her the world burned.

9

Minoritized languages moodboard: Zapoteco

Zapotec languages are a group of closely-related indigenous Mesoamerican languages, spoken by the Zapotec people from Mexico. They live mainly in Oaxaca and its surrounding states: Puebla, Veracruz, and Guerrero.

7

The Muxes of Juchitán 

Juchitán is a town in the southeast of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The town which is largely inhabited by the Zapotec Indigenous people, has not only preserved it’s precolonial language and culture, but has also retained gender identities and roles that transcend the traditional western ones. Those which were subjected onto much of the rest of Mexican society by European colonizers. 

This contrasting expression of gender that survives among the Zapotec and Mestizo communities of southern Oaxaca, takes its form in the concept of the muxe. Muxe is a term used to refer to those assigned male at birth, but who identify either as women or as a distinct third-gender. They are an intrinsic part of Zapotec society, and highly respected for the roles they play in families, such as taking care of their elderly parents when their siblings have moved out of the household. Despite the acceptance of them in many rural areas, they face discrimination in more urban areas, mainly by non-Indigenous people who have inherited the Spanish cultural attitude of machismo. 

Juchitán is a colonial town that predates the Spanish conquest. Home to the indigenous culture of the Zapotec, a third gender known as muxe (MOO-shey) – said to derive from “mujer,” the word for “woman” in Spanish – has long flourished here. The muxe gender encompasses a range of identities that are between the male-female binary. While a muxe would have different labels to choose from in the U.S. – “trans woman,” “gay man,” “genderqueer” – “muxe” spans all identities between male and female here. The term is unique to the Zapotec.

Stemming from pre-Columbian societies that had “mixed-genders” outside of male and female, the muxes are analogous to other “two-spirit” identities in indigenous populations of North America. Muxes traditionally have the freedom to dress in women’s clothing, wear cosmetics and grow their hair long. They can be seen wearing the traditional Tehuana costume of the region, a two-part gown made up of a huipil – a shirt with colorful embroidery – and a long skirt that usually matches the top. Called muxes vestidas – “dressed muxes” – they participate in more traditional female gender roles, such as working as seamstresses, than do muxes pintadas – “painted muxes” – who dress in men’s clothes, but still pluck their eyebrows and wear cosmetics.

When asked why a third gender is accepted in Juchitán, the townspeople invariably point to “the matriarchy” of Oaxacan households – women handle the finances of the family, since they’re the ones who work as vendors in the marketplace, giving them more of an equal standing with men than elsewhere in the countryside. Many mothers would sooner force an unaccepting husband to leave the house than kick out a muxe child.

Location: Juchitán, Oaxaca, Mexico

Photographer: Shaul Schwarz

Indigenous gods for each sign
  • Aries: Tonacatecuhtli - Mexica god of creation and fertility.
  • Taurus: Huitzilopochtli - God of the Sun and the War It represents the free consciousness in the human being, symbol of virtues, faculties, powers. It should eliminate the Coyolxauqui (Animal passions) and the Surians 400 (The psychological defects). When referring to war is speaking to the war against defects.
  • Gemini: xochiquetzal - In Mexica mythology is the goddess of beauty, flowers, love, love, pleasure and the arts.
  • Cancer: Huehuecóyotl - Is the god of the arts, lord of music and ceremonial dance, guide of adulthood and adolescence.
  • Leo: ixtlilton - Is the god of medicine, dances, festivals and games.
  • Virgo: Ixcuina - She was goddess of passion and lust.
  • Libra: Patécatl - Is the god of medicines and discoverer of the peyote, as well as the "lord of the pulque root".
  • Scorpio: Coyolxauqui -The Moon Goddess. It represents the feminine aspect and on the other hand the multiple defects that we must eradicate, Huitzilopochtli (representation of the positive values of the human being) dismantles it.
  • Sagittarius: Coatlicue - The Sun God Live representation of the divinity among the Aztecs.
  • Capricorn: Xólotl - Is the god of the twilight, the spirits, the twins and the Venus Venus, who helped the dead on their journey to Mictlán, lord of the evening star (Venus) and the underworld.
  • Aquarius: Mictlantecuhtli - In the Mexica, Zapotec and Mixtec mythology is the god of the underworld and of the dead.
  • Pisces: Yacatecuhtli - Is the god of commerce, patron of merchants and exchange, mainly in commercial travel.

Images are vessels. Our Nahua speaking ancestors referred to images of the gods as Ixiptla or Toptli. Ixiptli derives from “skin,” or “rind.” Toptli means “that which covers something.” The gods and their images recognize each other. As like is attracted to like, so the divine forces recognize themselves in their images and fill them with their essence. A statue, a painting, a mask, a dough or amaranth figure, a natural rock formation, or a man dressed as the god, all become receptacles for divine energy, all become Ixitptla, all become god.

Here, an Ixiptla of Cocijo, the Zapotec Teotl of Rain. Because of the intimate relationship between rain and corn, Pitao Cozobi, the Teotl of Maize, appears in his headdress, descending with ears of corn.

Las imágenes son contenedores. Nuestros ancestres ​​que hablan Nahua se refieren a imágenes de los dioses como Ixiptla o Toptli. Ixiptli deriva de “piel” o “corteza”. Toptli significa “aquello que cubre algo”. Los dioses y sus imágenes se reconocen. Como a los semejantes les atraen, las fuerzas divinas se reconocen en sus imágenes y las llenan de su esencia. Una estatua, una pintura, una máscara, una figura de amaranto, una formación de piedra natural o un hombre vestido de dios, todos se convierten en recipientes para la energía divina, todos se convierten en Ixitptla, todos se convierten en dios. Aquí, una Ixiptla de Cocijo, el Teotl Zapoteca de la Lluvia. Debido a la íntima relación entre lluvia y maíz, Pitao Cozobi, el Teotl de Maíz, aparece en su tocado, descendiendo con dos mazorcas de maiz.

Feather dancer poses during La Guelaguetza festivities

La Guelaguetza is simply the main festivity of Oaxaca. It is the meeting of the seven regions of the state at El Cerro del Fortin or Fortin Hill two Mondays in July in the most colorful dancing fiesta of the whole country. The beginnings of La Guelaguetza date back from the Mexica conquest of Oaxaca. The Mexica worshiped Goddess of tender corn Xilonen. Nowadays the festivity is dedicated to Goddess of corn Centeotl. Guelaguetza means to share or to give. It is also an reciprocal interchange of presents and services. This interchange is a strong tie among people of communities and families. The Guelaguetza is also known as Lunes del cerro or Mondays of the Hill because it is celebrated on the top of El Fortin Hill, a place with a spectacular view of the city and the surroundings. In some communities Guelaguetza also means Help among their inhabitants. In fact in some towns many parties such as Quinceañeras when a girl is 15 years old, or baptize, or anniversaries, people organize them with donations in money, music, beverages, food, and many others given as a Guelaguetza, sharing costs and work in order to have a great party. Guelaguetza is a Zapotec word which has an inner sense of participating by cooperation, which is a gift which needs no obligation, only the desire to cooperate with others.

Photographer: Diego Huerta

Fic: Infodere Ch 1

I started a new story. It was supposed to be a one shot. Its not. I don’t know what will happen. It might wind up in the next Chapter, I might still be writing this when DG finally gets round to finishing Bees. Who knows.

Its another AU. Jamie and Claire are archaeologists who meet on a dig in Mexico. Adventure ensues (eventually!)

As always let me know what you think and my other work can be found here


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Claire hacked her way through the vegetation. After 12 months based in the university teaching she’d forgotten just how physically demanding field work could be. She’d travelled as far as she could by truck and then by horse but the site lay another 6 hours by road. The jungle track, although more challenging would have her there in less than three, giving her time to set up her tent before all her equipment arrived with the supply trucks.  She felt  a familiar excitement in the pit of her stomach. She loved her sojourns to the university, sharing her knowledge and practice with the next generation, but field archaeology had always been her first love. She’d started young, only 6 years old, following the death of her parents and a brief and highly unsuccessful stint in a boarding school. Her Uncle Lamb, an esteemed antiquarian and archaeologist of some note, her only living relative, had taken her in and this meant a life of roaming around archaeological digs and universities. She’s never considered another career. She knew she would never find one to match the excitement, the adventure of her calling.

And this dig. Claire licked her lips as she thought of the possibilities. She and her team had been given rare and unusual access to an ancient site, thought to be Zaptoec in origin. Some digs had already been done at Monte Alban, but it was thought that this new site may date back even further and give new insight to the life of this pre-Columbian civilisation. A pre dig unit had been there for about three weeks already, doing surveying work and creating access to the site for their equipment. She had never met the lead archaeologist in this team and knew him only by reputation having read his recent article on Mayan iconography in a journal. He was based out of the University of Edinburgh, a institution with fine School of Archaeological Sciences and was confident the site had been left in good hands.

Finally, hot and sweaty Claire and her guide broke through the tree line and out into the clearing. The ruins of a pyramid dominated her skyline and below it all was activity. Graduate students ran to and fro marking out sectors and recording the topography. Equipment specialists tested equipment and tents were being hastily erected to act as sleeping quarters, a dining hall, medical station and several classification and examination tents, equipped with bright lights. She strode purposefully towards the biggest tent.

“I’m Dr Claire Beauchamp. I’m looking for Dr Fraser.”

A slight looking grad student with a gaunt face and a loping gait, led her into the tent. Following she looked around approvingly. Everything seemed to be set up just so. In fact she would have likely not selected any different configuration.  The student came to a halt at a tarpaulin which separated the main classification area from the specialist examination area. Whilst the majority of digging, general sorting and labelling would be done by less experienced archaeologists and students, the more serious work would be undertaken by the two senior archaeologists, Claire herself, a specialist in mesoamerican artefacts and Dr Fraser a specialist in Ancient iconography and architecture. They also had a funerary archaeology on hand should any human remains be uncovered which was always a possibility when excavating formerly inhabited areas. The student coughed nervously in an attempt to catch the attention of the person on the other side of the tarp. Claire rolled her eyes slightly, wondering how this nervous little man would cope with both the physical and psychological rigours of eight weeks on a remote dig. The student coughed again, slightly louder this time. A voice from the other side of the tarp rang out.

“For crying out loud, Geordie. Just call my name when you need me. Dinna hang around outside hacking away like a victorian consumptive” The tarp was suddenly pushed to the side and out strode a tall broad figure. So large him seemed to fill the space. He came to a halt in front of Claire who had to rock back slightly in order to look at him, so tall was he. She smirked slightly at his Indiana Jones style hat, before holding out her hand to greet him.

“Dr Fraser I presume.” She said with a smile. He reached out and took her hand to shake it and she couldn’t help but think how warm and soft it was.

“And ye’ll be Dr Beauchamp then, aye? Your reputation precedes you. My colleague Dr Gowan was mad wi’ jealousy that I would be working with a archaeologist of such renown.”

“Oh you know old Ned?” She asked laughing. “I worked with him on one of my first professional digs. It was out at Skara Brae in Orkney. The weather was a bit different to here.” She fanned herself slightly with her hat. She had spent many years in various tropical climes in the course of both her own and Uncle Lamb’s work, but the first few days were always and adjustment, especially when leaving the British Winter behind. Much as she loved her work in Durham University she was never sorry to say goodbye in the winter months.

Fraser laughed. “C’mon then. Let me show you the site and where you’ll be sleeping. No doubt you’ll want to get it all set up so that when we’re all exhausted at the end of the day ye can just fall into bed.” Her stomach tipped slightly when he said the word bed and she caught herself in alarm. “What the fuck Beauchamp?” It was true though, there was something about this tall stranger that had provoked a physical reaction in her. Maybe it was his height or his deep scottish brogue. Or, as she reminded herself sharply, simply the fact that she and Frank had broken up last year and she had not had a man in her life or in her bed since. “Pull yourself together.” She murmured. “Pardon?” Fraser turned around hearing her. “Oh nothing, nothing just talking to myself.” He smiled at her and continued walking. He wasn’t just tall, she decided he was also  beautifully built. You could make out his powerful planes of his muscles down through his back and his forearms were strong and slightly freckled where his shirt sleeves were rolled up. Claire shook her head to clear her thoughts. After her time with Frank, whom she had met on a dig several years earlier when he came to examine some Jacobite artefacts that had been uncovered buried in the woods near Inverness, she had vowed not to get involved with anyone again. Her job as a field archaeologist took her away often and for long lengths of time and Frank had grown resentful of her career, especially when it looked set to eclipse his own. She had returned to Oxford from a dig in the Etla Valley, set to turn down a teaching post at Durham. She had arrived a day early to surprise Frank. She had ultimately been the one to be surprised though, when she had found him in bed with a bottle of brandy and the History department secretary. She had left that day, accepting the post at Durham and never looked back. But she had been hurt by the betrayal and convinced that her career was incompatible with a shared life. Afterall, Uncle lamb had never married and maybe that was why.  Still, she was only human and Dr Fraser was very attractive. He had removed his hat revealing the most beautiful mop of red hair and his blue eyes were warm and friendly.

“Here ye go, Dr Beauchamp” Fraser came to halt outside a row of tents. “This one here is yours, you get one to yourself as befits our esteemed leader” She glanced at him sharply looking for signs of mocking in his face at that statement but she found none. “Once you’ve got straight I’ll take ye to the canteen for some lunch and then we’ll get started, aye?”

He’d been at the site for three weeks now doing set up and surveying the area. Thankfully the students and junior archaeologists he’d been assigned this time were better than the last dig he’d been on. Within a week they’d had the site mapped out and were able to start putting up the site buildings. Once that had been done work began surveying and laying out the grid. He’d been apprehensive about meeting Dr Beauchamp, she had a wonderful reputation and he’s read much of her work, having broadly overlapping specialisms, but digs were stressful places. Time was a constant factor even in on partially privately funded digs like this, the push to get as much out of the ground as they could before the money ran out. The thought of working with an unknown colleague was always daunting.

Now she was here, some of his apprehension dissipated. She had trekked through the jungle rather than opting to travel in the relative comfort of the truck convoy and didn’t seem in anyway daunted by the remoteness of the site. But then she’d been on sites like this since she was a wee girl if Ned had told him correctly, the niece of the late, great Quentin Lambert Beauchamp. But there was something else about her too. Something about the way her whiskey coloured eyes appraised everything, something about the way the set of her jaw, her confidence and self possession. He found himself wanting to know more about her.

They sat down to lunch. The canteen tent was almost empty, with just a few people on their staggered breaks, eating snacks and drinking coffee scattered around. It was cool in the tent, or at least compared to outside and large fans kept the air moving and the insects at bay.

“So, what got you into archaeology?” She asked between bites of her pasta.

“Oh, I did a year out before uni and ended up on a dig at Ephesus. It was just supposed to be a laugh, but it turned out it was what I really wanted to do.”

“And a specialist in mesoamerican iconography and architecture? Seems an odd choice for a boy from the Highlands” She asked with a smile. He tilted his head in acknowledgement of the recognition of his accent before continuing.

“Well actually, that would be the influence of one Dr Beauchamp” He smiled slightly at her surprise at this. “I was lucky enough to do a dig in Belize during my undergraduate studies. He was the lead on it. I never saw a man with such passion for his work. He inspired me.”

Dr Beauchamp smiled and he felt his heart flutter a little. She really was lovely with that hair and that soft creamy skin. But smart too, and funny.

“Well then” she laughed. “I guess that makes two of us, Dr Fraser.”

“Jamie.”he said impulsively “You can call me Jamie”

For a moment she looked slightly taken aback at the sudden familiarity and he cringed a little at his own unprofessionalism. He was about to apologise when he golden eyes softened again. She tilted her head a little as she looked him and he once again felt a slight flutter in the depths of his stomach.

“Claire.” she replied.

Zapotec jade and shells mask, ca.200 BC–100 AD, Monte Albán, Mexico. Even though many scholars maintain that this is a bat mask, many of its features point towards its identification as a feline, possibly a jaguar. If so, it may be associated with power and royal lineages. Regardless of its identification, it is one of the most valuable treasures ever recovered from Monte Albán. Photo: © Jorge Pérez de Lara