sábado, 1 de octubre de 2011

ArchaeoHeritage - Pre-Columbian altar found in México

Mexican archaeologists find a 2,800 year-old Olmec cylindrical monument during excavations at the archaeological site of Chalcatzingo in the central state of Morelos. 

Mexican archaeologists discovered a 2,800 year-old cylindrical altar with a bowl carved in the middle, thought to be used by the Olmecs as as a rain receptacle as part of a ritual, at the archaeological site of Chalcatzingo in the central state of Morelos. 

Archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) made the discovery of the altar - which measures 1.30 m in diametre, with a thickness of 46 cm - while conducting excavations to drain water accumulated during the rainy season from near-by monuments to avoid their deterioration. 

The altar is carved in schematic figures illustrating cloud and drops that may allude to fertility, which is a common representation in Morelos state. 

"We found a monument, number 40, which is a cylindrical altar with carvings associated to fertility and rain which could be a group of clouds with rain," said archeologist, Cuautli Medina. 

Archaeologist, Carolina Mes, said the finding would shed some light on how these settlements practised rituals. 

"The discovery shows allow us to understand how they used their objects and how they managed to use them as part of rituals. They usually used bowls during their rituals. This was probably a place of worship, or living quarters for high priests, not for commoners." 

The altar dates back to the Middle Pre-classic period, between 800 and 500 BC when local settlements were influenced by the Olmecs, whose influence is seen in large-scale carved stone designs, which are characteristic of Chalcatzingo. 

"This finding is important due to its antiquity, 2,800 years-old approximately. From the years 800 and 500 BC. It's one of the few finding kept at the archeological site," added Medina. 

The fact that one end of the carved monument was detached intentionally during pre-Hispanic times could be interpreted as a "death ritual" of the monument. 

Archaeologists at the site are trying to find the original floor level in order to drain stagnant water accumulated during the rainy season while developing a project for the proper conservation of the monuments. 

 NTN24 News

Source: The Archaeology News Network

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