Throughout human history, as far as there are written records, the red planet has captured the interest of ancient civilizations worldwide. But is there something more to this mysterious planet other than it’s red color and authority in the skies? How much do we know today about Mars? Are governments worldwide telling all the story concerning the red planet? According to NASA reports, Mars is just another “dead” planet in the vast ocean in the skies, so why are they spending billions of dollars exploring and studying it? Throughout history we have been fascinated with the “thundering” red color of Mars in our sky, and civilizations all over the world associated this planet with their gods. In ancient Babylon, Mars was named after Nergal, the god of fire, death, and destruction, the Greeks named Mars after Ares, their god of war. And the Roman civilization payed tribute to Mars, their god of war, but the list does not end here.
We know that the Mayas, Aztec’s and other Ancient American civilizations also payed tribute to Mars. The red planet’s connection to the Mayan calendar is portrayed in The Dresden Codex. This incredible and rare book describes the calendar in relation to the movement of the red planet across the sky.
The image above represents the dragon like creature that was depicted by the Maya as the planet Mars, yet why the Maya held the red planet so highly is something many scholars have been debating. An incredible amount of infromation regarding the Maya and their deep connection to the Red planet can be found in one of the most important ancient texts from the Maya; The Dresden Codex.
The Dresden Codex is one of four remaining books that the Maya wrote and there are different sections of the book that describe different astronomical phenomena and specifically the red planet. There is an almanac near the end of the book, that breaks up days into ten groups of 78 days equaling 780 days, which is the cyanotic period of Mars, which means the time it takes the red planet to get back to the same place in the sky from the human perspective. But why did the Maya give such importance to Mars? The Romans are together with the Maya the most notorious ancient civilizations to give such importance to Mars.
In ancient Rome, Mars was an extremely important planet and God. In 42 BC, the Roman forces of Augustus waged the Battle of Philippi against Marcus Brutus, as Augustus tried to avenge the assassination of Julius Caesar. Augustus pledged to “Mars” the god of war that if he won this battle, he would build a great temple for him. He went on and won the battle and became the great Ceaser Augustus, one of the greatest Roman emperors, and as promised he constructed the temple of Mars. Every time that Rome went into war, the doors of the temple were opened widely, so the Romans gave enormous importance to Mars.
In ancient Babylon Mars was of extreme importance as it was to the Aztecs, Maya and Romans. In many astronomical and religious texsts there is evidence that the planet Mars was identified with the war-god Nergal in ancient Babylon.
In the 17th century, when we had telescopes powerful enough to spot the features of Mars we started to wonder in our heads, “what if there was life on the red planet”? Angelo Secchi, an Italian astronomer was one of the first people to actually suggest that on the surface on Mars there were strange structures, straight lines that resembled constructions on planet Earth, he called these lines “canali” or “channels” More and more people became interested about Mars at that time and ideas were cooked up that Mars actually had intelligent lifeforms just like Earth. But is there a possibility that there is life on the Red Planet?