Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shaman petroglyph recorded in Veracruz

A set of petroglyphs including one which depicts a priest or “wise man” has been recorded by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). These rock cut images were found on the slopes of Cerro del Bonnet in the Mexican state of Veracruz.

The pecked stone petroglyphs are thought to be about 500 years old and were discovered in January 2013 by members of the local farming community.

The priest or shamanic figure measures 1.40 m high by 50 cm wide. He is represented with his eye closed and mouth open and wears a zoomorphic helmet with a cape and underskirt decorated with triangles, a girdle and ankle bracelets and an ear plug. Around him there are symbols related to divination and astronomical elements and near the top of the stone there are two concentric circles that could have held a chalchihuitl (precious green stone – Literally “Heart of the Earth”).

A constellation?

On a higher slab, lies a further though much cruder anthropomorphic figure (50 cm high by 20 cm wide) facing to the right. This time, depicted with mouth and eye open and also wearing an ear plug, the figure seems to be dancing as the máxtlatl (loincloth) lifts up at the front.

Unlike the shaman, this figure is schematically drawn. No hands are represented and the feet seem to be wearing shoes. It is possible that this figure represents a constellation rather than a human being.

Unknown meaning

One of the final elements on the petroglyph panels is a spiral whose terminal is intersected by a rough horizontal line which in turn is cut by a vertical line that divides into two lines ending in what has been suggested to represent a flower or leaf.

Although the iconographic style of the petroglyphs is not known in the Huasteca region, the symbols appear to be reinterpretations of known elements used by agricultural cultures, such as the zoomorphic helmet character which is reminiscent of the Teayo Castle sculptures, or the “Lord of Death” monolith discovered in the Las Flores Cinco Poblados.

“An important aspect to investigate is the location and function of all possible petroglyphs, because by observing the horizon and solar events it may represent a means of marking events in the agricultural year. “added archaeologist Maria Eugenia Maldonado.

“The study of petroglyphs in the region is still in it’s infancy, but becoming more important for understanding the cosmology and beliefs of the societies that inhabited this area. Such findings contribute to increasing knowledge of the cultural development of the Huasteca Veracruzana“, Maldonado concluded.

Past Horizons. 2013. “Shaman petroglyph recorded in Veracruz”. Past Horizons. Posted: April 24, 2013. Available online:

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