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The Cydonia Institute                                                                                                                Vol. 1 No. 9  ◘
The Dolphin and the Mark
by George J. Haas and William Saunder
June 1998 (Revised March 2014)
A large geoglyphic formation in the shape of a full profiled dolphin was photographed within the Cydonia area in April 1998 by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft (SP1–2580).1 The dolphin formation (Labeled A in figure 1) sits just north of the Main Pyramid (Labeled B in figure 1) and right next to the western edge of a structure known as The Fort (Labeled C image figure 1).

Figure 1
Location of the Dolphin geoglyph
Crop of MOC SP1–25803 (Rotated 180° to the right.
A.    Dolphin geoglyph
B.    B. Main Pyramid
C.    The Fort
Enhancement and notations by The Cydonia Institute

The contoured shape of the dolphin appears to be cut right into the surface of Mars in a manner reminiscent of the Nazca line drawings in Peru. The imprint of the dolphin is approximately 3.5 kilometers or just over 2 miles in length and includes a prominent dorsal fin, a flipper, a crescent-shaped tail, and a head with a bottle-shaped nose. The overall contour of this dolphin is uncanny. A color wash of the dolphin formation is provided for clarity (Figure 2). Traditionally, dolphins are associated with water and signify the power of metamorphosis and regeneration. Dolphins are seen not only as divine emblems of wisdom and prudence, but also as symbols of duality and transformation.2

Figure 2
The Dolphin geoglyph
Detail of MOC SP1–25803 (1998)
Color wash by William Saunders

Taking a closer look at the dolphin formation the first thing we noticed was the splattering of small craters dispersed within and around its body (Figure 3). After a quick survey of the assortment of craters we noticed that two of them appeared unusually shaped with at least one straight wall. The first crater is found within the top of the Dolphin’s head, which we call the Blow Hole Crater (Labeled a in figure 3). The second crater is located below the chin area of the Dolphin geoglyph, which we called Chin Crater (Labeled b in figure 3). Looking above the Blow Hole Crater we saw an unusual graphic marking on the surface that we called the Mark (Circled feature in figure 3).

Figure 3
The Dolphin geoglyph with the Mark and misshapen craters
Detail of MOC SP1–25803 (1998)
Enhancement and notations by The Cydonia Institute

When this graphically designed Mark,3 is isolated and rotated 180° (Figure 4a) its alignment with the Blow Hole Crater became more apparent. Using the straight wall of the Blow Hole Crater as a demarcation guide we noticed it aligned with lower inflection point of the Mark (Figure 4.b). When duplicated4 an incredible image is revealed that has a distinct resemblance to a familiar symbol used as a sacred emblem to distinguish the Freemasons—a square and compasses (Figure 4c).

The compasses project out of the dolphin’s head from a jewel-like beacon that is created by the highly reflective rim of the Blow Hole Crater (Figure 4c). The beacon acts as a handle or knob for the compasses below. It produces a swirling crown effect at the top of the formation that provides the image with the kinetic action of rotational movement. Looking at the square section of the formation, it adheres to a true 90° angle (Figure 4d) and has a decorative axe head feature attached to its outer edge (See figure 6c). The compasses are set behind the square and extend down to a fine point across the surface.

                                                   a.                                                                                                  b.                                                                                                           c.                                                         
Figure 4
The swirling square and compasses (Blow Hole Crater)
Detail of MOC SP1–25803 (1998)
a.     Demarcation line
Enhancement and notation by The Cydonia Institute
b.    Duplicated
Enhancement and duplication by The Cydonia Institute
c. With square
Enhancement and notation by The Cydonia Institute

Directing your attention to the second demarcation marker,5 located along the straight wall of the Chin Crater (Figure 5a) we duplicated the Mark a second time. As a result a more traditional square and compasses emblem is revealed (Figure 5b). In this version, the square feature still falls within a true right angle (Figure 5c) and retains the decorative axe head attached to its outer edge (See figure 6c) that overlays the compasses. However, unlike the swirling version of the square and compasses seen in figure 4c, this version is detached from the interior of the dolphin’s head. The dolphin’s arching head now forms a winged-shaped bow tie hovering above and presents the square and compasses as if a medallion dangling from a ribbon.

a.                                                                                            b.                                                                                                      c.
Figure 5
The square and compasses with ribbon (Chin Crater)
Detail of MOC SP1–25803 (1998)
a.     Demarcation line
Enhancement and notation by The Cydonia Institute
b.    Duplicated
Enhancement and duplication by The Cydonia Institute
c.     With square
Enhancement and notation by The Cydonia Institute

The square and compasses combines two instruments of the builder’s trade, the square and compasses (Figure 6a). The simple mechanics of this emblem symbolize the essence of duality: the compasses are used to create a circle, while the set square produces a square.6 The circle and square are opposites and represent the idea of duality. When a Masonic square and compasses is compared to the duplicated image of the “Mark” (Figure 6b) the graphic imprint of these two conjoined architectural tools is quite remarkable. An analytical drawing is provided for comparison (Figure 6c). Notice the highly decorative, heraldic design of the square and compasses. The square is produced by a composite of serpentine creatures with avian heads. Notice the lower winged serpent conforms to the shape of an axe, its tail forming the blade. The use of conjoined avian serpents to form the square section denotes the same duality and opposition seen within the square and circle. Birds occupy the heavens where they are able to fly, while serpents are Earth bound and can only crawl on the ground.  Looking at the compasses, which are set behind the square, are also the product of an avian and serpentine composite. The lower portion of the compasses depicts the wavy body of a serpent. Notice the striped body, the eye and tapered head. The upper portion of the compasses features an avian foot that’s topped with only one claw.   

a.                                                                                   b.                                                                                                   c.
Figure 6
Square and Compasses comparison
a.     Masonic square and compasses
Drawing by George J. Haas
b.    Square and compasses (Chin Crater)
Detail of MOC SP1–25803 (1998)
Enhancement by The Cydonia Institute
c.     Square and compasses (Chin Crater)
Analytical drawing with color wash by George J. Haas

This idea of only presenting one half of a graphic or figurative image was a common practice that developed among many of the Mesoamerican cultures such as the Olmec and Maya. Here are just a few examples of cut-in-half glyphs (Figure 7).

Figure 7
Mesoamerican half glyphs
a.     Maya glyph – half and duplicated
b.    Olmec glyph – half and duplicated
c.     Olmec glyph – half and duplicated

The practice is based on the ritual of placing cut-in-half artifacts in the graves of the elite as burial offerings.  It was believed that after a member of the elite died some of his personal objects were ceremonially cut-in-half and one half was placed in the Underworld with the deceased and the other half was given to a family member, to remain in the Upperworld.7 Although separate these individual halves were considered complete representations of the whole figure. Like an individual element of a holograph that retains the entire image, this Mesoamerican concept known as pars-pro-toto, enables any part of an object to be used as a representation the whole.8 Therefore, this act of cutting the object in half embraces the duality of life and death. It creates two equal parts of the whole that represents mirrored reflections of two opposing worlds – one side embodies the living force, while the other side descends to the realm of the underworld. It appears the cut in half emblem of the square and compasses on Mars titled the Mark is an extension of this as holographic mind set.

It was also the Olmec that regarded the dolphin as a sacred creature of the sea. A large stone sculpture of a dolphin can be seen at the Olmec sculptural park at La Venta, Mexico (Figure 8). Although dolphins may look like fish, they actually fall within a class of aquatic mammals. The Olmec may have found this transformational aspect of the dolphin appealing because of its tendency to leap out of the water, giving the appearance of living between two worlds where the “sea and the sky meet.”9

Figure 8
Dolphin sculpture (Olmec)
Olmec sculptural park, La Venta
Image courtesy John Mitchell

The Maya believed in a dualist cosmology that proclaimed each individual was part of a similar piece of Creation. The psyche of the Maya was a dualist perception of “I am you” and “You are me” which, like their gods, represented the opposing forces of nature.10

A Mayan linguist, Domingo Martinez Paredes, maintains that the Maya had a cosmic principle of movement and measurement that symbolized a dualist view of the universe that they called “Hunab Ku” (Sole Measure Giver). They believed in a dynamic dualism in which the whole material world was part of a cosmic mathematical order. The Hunab Ku was symbolized by a square in a circle (Figure 9) According to Martinez, the Hunab Ku and the Masonic square and compasses are synonymous concepts that symbolize the standards of the “Great Architect of the universe.”11

a.                                                                                              b.
Figure 9
Maya Hunab Ku
a.       Hunab Ku - Square within circle
b.      Quartered square diagram
Drawings by George J. Haas

In the Maya Popol Vuh, the formation of a square is described as one of the initial actions performed by the gods in order to create the cosmos. The creator gods arranged the Four Corners of the heavens in the shape of a square, while the Earth formed a circle below it. The Maya, with the aid of a simple cord, adopted these sacred measurements and incorporated them into their daily lives.

According to Mayanist Christopher Powell, the square was the fundamental shape found in Maya geometry, the module from which all Creation was generated.12 To form the Hunab Ku, the Maya would first form a square and quarter it and then place a cord at the center and stretch the cord along a 45-degree angle to the corner of the square. Then by running the cord completely around the square they were able to form a perfect circle (Figure 8b).13 This very geometric shape of a circle and a square set up the concept for the duality of the universe.

All aspects of their world and humanity were split into paired deities that are complementary, as evident in their myths and bifurcated glyphs. The Maya also incorporated a similar technique of measurement within their architecture to achieve the sacred proportion known as the “golden mean.”14

A similar idea, but one in which a sole god creates the entire universe, is illustrated within a thirteenth-century French illuminated manuscript of the Bible. On one of the colorful panels, almighty God is cast as the Great Architect of the universe (Figure 10). Compasses in hand, God contemplates the circumference of the cosmos.

Figure 10
God as the Great Architect of the Universe.
13th century French illustrated manuscript
Image source: Pierpont Morgan Library.

Among the many accouterments found within the tomb of the great Maya leader King Pacal of Palenque were a jade cube, found in his right hand, and a jade sphere, found in his left hand (Figure 11). Not only was Pacal buried as the great Maya leader he was entombed as the Great Architect of the universe with the cube and sphere held in his hands. Here they are seen as objects echoing the duality of the square and the compasses.

Figure 11
Sarcophagus of Pacal
Note cube in right hand and sphere in left.
Drawing by Linda Schele (color wash added by The Cydonia Institute)

Trying to understand the relationship shared between the dolphin and the Hunab Ku and its connection to the square and compasses lead us from the jungles of Mesoamerican to shores of ancient Crete. There we found a small Aegean coin that not only depicts the image of a dolphin it also illustrates the same instructional diagram used by the Maya, to signify the circling of the square (Figure 12).  On the obverse side of the coin there are three swimming dolphins circling a large Alpha sign, while the reverse side illustrates a geometric diagram of a quartered square with a diagonal marker set in its lower right-hand corner. As we saw earlier with the Maya diagram of the Hunab Ku this diagonal marker signifies the act of drawing a cord from the center of the square to its lower corner and pulling it around the outside of the square, thereby forming a perfectly proportioned circle. Because of the diagram’s unique design, which features a quartered square that extends to the outer circumference of the coin, one could say it creates an analogous symbol to a Hunab Ku, where the outer rim acts as a circle.

Figure 12
Aegean coin with three dolphins and the circling the square diagram
Crete (circa 400 BC)
Image source: Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co

Continuing on, with our quest to understand the dolphin’s relationship with the square and compasses, our search took us from the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean and a large island known as the United Kingdom, which contains and the country of Scotland. It is there that we found an answer. It was at the Abercromby Lodge #531, located in Stirlingshire, Scotland that uses a jumping dolphin set with in a nautically designed square and compasses as their lodge emblem (Figure 13).

Figure 13
Dolphin with square and compasses
Lodge emblem (Circa 1873)
Abercromby Lodge 531 Stirlingshire, Scotland
Drawing by George J. Haas

The square is represented as a pair of decorative rigging cleats15 attached to the inner bar. The shape of the sharp rigging cleats reflect the highly ornamental axe head features attached to the Martian square. The compasses are also not represented as traditional instruments and are formed by a pair of oars that overlay the square. Just as the Olmec observed the dolphin jumping in and out of the water, when rowing a boat, the oars are plunged into the water and pulled out of the water, just like a diving dolphin. In masonic symbolism, just as the Blow Hole version of the square and compasses suggest movement (Figure 6), the dolphin is seen as an emblem of speed and movement.16

Just as the Mark does not look like a traditional square and compasses, the Abercromby Lodge emblem does not represent a traditional square and compasses either. The Lodge emblem takes a metaphysical approach in its design by combing the use of rigging cleats as a square and oars as its compasses, while the Mark takes a more zoomorphic path by using avian and serpent forms to represent its square and compasses. Another interesting design element expressed in these two representations of the square and compasses is in the position of the compasses. Notice the Mark emblem has the compasses set behind the square, while the Abercromby emblem has the compasses placed in front of the square.

According to Masonic doctrine the placement of the square and compasses demotes the level of enlightenment a member of the fraternity has achieved. A new member begins his journey with the fraternity in darkness, which is symbolized by the square covering the compasses and when the compasses are elevated above the square, it symbolizes that the member has been brought to light.17 This struggle between light and darkness is again illustrated in the very design of both the Mark and the Abercromby emblem. The Abercromby emblem features a complete, upright square and compasses with a dolphin leaping out of the darkness of the Underworld into the light above, while the Mark features an inverted, cut-in-half square and compasses created by a set of conjoined avian serpents, dwelling in the darkness below. 
Two additional images of the Dolphin geoglyph were obtained by NASA that include The Mark. The first is Mars Global Surveyor MOC image M02-04227 released in 2000 that photographed the eastern side of the Main Pyramid at the heart of Cydonia (Figure 14). This MOC image has the highest resolution of all the available images of The Mark, coming in at 1.55 meters per pixels18. Notice the half glyph of the square and compasses (The Mark) circled in figure 14.

Figure 14
The Dolphin's head with the Mark
Detail of MOC M02-04227 (2000)
Enhancement and notation by The Cydonia Institute

The second, or third image was acquired in 2007 by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE context camera. The third image labeled CTX: P03_002100_2223_XN_42N010W has a moderate resolution of 5.91 meters per pixel19 (Figure 15). The image captured another view of the half glyph of the square and compasses (The Mark) and the entire Dolphin geoglyph, resting just above the Fort.

Figure 15
The Dolphin and the Mark
Detail of MRO HiRISE CTX image P03_002100_XN_43N010W (2007)
Enhancement and notation by The Cydonia Institute

Now that the integrity of The Mark can be tested, the reader is challenged to down load all three of these NASA images and just as archeologists duplicate Mesoamerica cut-in-half glyphs, we invite you to duplicate the half glyph of the square and compasses (The Mark) for yourselves. Remember, through NASA's own pictures, the truth will be revealed. 



1. MOC SP1–25803, MASSIFS AND BUTTES IN CYDONIA MENSAE, released April 23, 1998.

2. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, A Dictionary of Symbols (New York: Penguin Books, 1996), 303

3. The Mark was first discovered by an early member of The Cydonia Institute. See George J. Haas, William R. Saunders, The Cydonia Codex, Reflections from Mars, (Berkeley: Frog Ltd., 2005), 175.
4. The technique of mirroring or duplicating half images of figurative and graphic forms is an acceptable research tool utilized among the archaeology community. Unfortunately many critics dismiss this technique and are unaware of the long tradition of composite art produced in Pre-Columbian cultures and have prematurely excluded the half, bifurcated and polymorphic model from their criteria for establishing artificiality.
5. Parallel demarcation lines have appeared in other geoglyphic formations within the Cydonia region of Mars, where movement is suggested. See; George J. Haas, William R. Saunders, The Cydonia Codex, Reflections from Mars, (Berkeley: Frog Ltd., 2005), 152. 

6. Daniel Beresniak, Symbols of Freemasonry, (Barnes & Noble Books, Singapore, 2003), 52.

7. Jade In Ancient Costa Rica, Mark Miller Graham (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998), p.53.

8. Gold, Jade, Forests: Costa Rica, Marlin Calvo Mora, (University of Washington Press, 1995), p.51..

9. Personal conversation with Joel Skidmore via e-mail at Mesoweb, “Ask the Archaeologist.” is not known if the Olmec culture made any distinction between fish and aquatic mammals, therefore they may have seen the dolphin as a fish and been intrigued by its ability to survive out of water.

10. Adrian G. Gilbert and Maurice M. Cotterell, The Mayan Prophecies: Unlocking The Secrets of A Lost Civilization (Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books, 1995), 78.

11. Peter Tompkins, Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids: Dimensional Analysis on Original Drawings by Hugh Herleston, Jr. and Historic Illustrations from Many Sources (New York: Perennial Library, 1976), 282–283.

12. Linda Schele and Peter Mathews, The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs (New York: Touchstone, 1999), 35.

13. Christopher Powell, “The Shapes of Sacred Space,” lecture at 19th Annual Maya Weekend, University of Pennsylvania Museum, March 24, 2001. This same technique can be used to produce a circle within a square.

14. Linda Schele and Peter Mathews, ibid.

15. Cleats are metal fittings having two projecting horns welded to a vessel's deck and used for securing lines.

16. Steve Grant, Masonic Symbols, The Global Fraternal Network Treasure Chest Archives,

17. Eduardo Casas, The symbolism of the square and compass, The Global Fraternal Network Treasure Chest Archives,
18. M02-04227, group of buttes in Cydonia, Dated May 22, 2000,
19. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE, CTX: P03_002100_2223_XN_42N010W, Cydonia Labyrinthus region, January 7, 2007,