Ancient Mesoamerican sculpture uncovered in southern Mexico

This photo and drawing illustrate a recently discovered 3,000-year-old Olmec-style stone monument from Ojo de Agua, the site of an early planned settlement in what is now the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. The carved monument provides information about Olmec culture in the area and includes symbols of maize, deities or other important figures, and possible features of the natural world. (Credit: John Hodgson; Drawing: Kisslan Chan and John Clark, New World Archaeological Foundation)

The archaeologists at this important site think that they have just started to scratch the surface (no pun intended) and this find shows that the societies here were a lot more complicated than previously thought – Deskarati

With one arm raised and a determined scowl, the figure looks ready to march right off his carved tablet and into the history books. If only we knew who he was — corn god? Tribal chief? Sacred priest?

“It’s beautiful and was obviously very important,” says University of Wisconsin-Madison archaeologist John Hodgson of the newly discovered stone monument. “But we will probably never know who he was or what the sculpture means in its entirety.”

The man is the central figure on a stone monument discovered in 2009 at a site called Ojo de Agua in far southern Mexico in the state of Chiapas along the Pacific coast. Hodgson, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at UW-Madison, describes the new monument in the cover article of the current issue (December 2010) of Mexicon, a peer-reviewed journal of Mesoamerican studies.

Monument 3 is just the second carved monument found in Ojo de Agua. Monument 1 was discovered accidently when a local farmer hit it with a plow in the 1960s. Monument 3 was a similarly fortuitous finding, uncovered in the process of digging an irrigation ditch. (Monument 2 is a large boulder with a flat surface and no visible carving, which Hodgson found in 2005 and reported in the January/February 2006 issue of Archaeology magazine in an article on Ojo de Agua.)

Hodgson was working in the area and received word of the finding within just a few days of its discovery. He was able to see the monument’s impression in the trench wall and study the soil layers where it had been buried, gaining a wealth of information that is usually lost long before any archaeologist lays eyes on a piece.

via Ancient Mesoamerican sculpture uncovered in southern Mexico.

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