A University of Wisconsin-Madison doctoral candidate has described an early Mexican carving that came from a site near the Pacific coast of what is now the State of Chiapas.
The location, Ojo de Agua, is not far from the boundary with Guatemala and those who lived there probably had contact with early Costa Ricans living in Guanacaste.
The student, John Hodgson, published his report in the journal Mexicon. Hodgson found the carving in 2005 at the location that is related to the ancient Olmec culture.
The archaeological context and radiocarbon dating of ceramic sherds associated with the stone monument show that it dates to 1100 to 1000 B.C., making it approximately 3,000 years old, the university said. Its purpose and meaning, however, will be harder to ascertain, it added. Said the university in a release:
The main figure on the tablet is depicted wearing an elaborate headdress, loincloth and ornate accessories, including a pair of large, comb-like ear ornaments, a rope-like necklace and a thick belt with a jaguar-head buckle. A face on the headdress includes features such as sprouting plants that identify it as a corn god. The tablet also includes a smaller secondary figure and a series of asymmetric zigzag designs that the authors suggest could represent lightning, local mountain ranges, or other features of the natural world.
The monument is a carved flat slab of a relatively soft, local volcanic stone that weighs about 130 pounds. It stands nearly three feet tall, about 14 inches wide, and ranges from four to seven inches thick.
The use of local materials shows it was made in or near Ojo de Agua.
Ojo de Agua lies in the heart of the ancient Aztec province Soconusco, nestled in a bend of the Coatán River. It is the earliest known site in Mesoamerica with formal pyramids built around plazas. The site appears to have been occupied for 150 to 200 years before being abandoned for unknown reasons.