Archaeologists in Mexico’s historic Maya metropolis of Oxkintok have unearthed a hanging headless statue. Measuring roughly 5 ft 5 inches (1.68 meters), the life-size limestone statue was uncovered throughout excavations alongside the route of the nation’s formidable Maya rail mission.
The announcement was made at a press conference by Diego Prieto Hernández, the overall director of the nation’s Nationwide Institute of Anthropology and Historical past (INAH). The press convention was a standing replace on what’s the largest archaeological investigation being carried on within the southeast of the nation in tandem with the development of the 1,550 kilometer (963 miles) intercity railway rail route.
Warrior or God of Fertility?
The archeological zone of Oxkintok, the place the statue was discovered, is within the state of Yucatan and lies about 55 kilometers (34 miles) south of town of Merida. The statue has briefly been nicknamed “Yum keeb”, the Maya god of fertility. However the identification could be very tentative and pending additional investigation. Other than its head, the statue can also be lacking palms, decrease legs and ft.
The entrance view of the statue. ( INAH)
Archaeologist Luis Pantoja Díaz has been quoted by the Mexico News Daily as explaining to a media staff visiting the realm, “He was discovered mendacity on his again and represents the human determine. We see the marked pectorals, the center half that could possibly be the hanging stomach and the a part of the member.” He added that the determine additionally had well-delineated buttocks and a few strains on the again, outlining shoulder blades.
In keeping with the Mexico Information Each day , some native newspapers have used phrases equivalent to falo (phallus) and miembro (member) in describing the main points of the statue, in step with its provisional naming as Yum keeb the god of fertilidad (fertility). Others, quite the opposite, have most popular to name consideration to Diego Prieto’s assertion that the statue’s lacking head denotes that it “certainly represents a warrior who was a prisoner in fight”.
Pantoja Diaz harassed, nonetheless, that at this stage it’s tough to say something with certainty in regards to the particular operate of the statue that was found close to a hieroglyphic-embellished staircase that was being cleaned and restored. He added that it isn’t even 100 per cent past doubt that the statue represents a male determine.
A part of the Maya website of Oxkintok. (Gary Todd/ CC0)
A Sacrificial Determine
Whereas solely additional investigations will supply higher readability in regards to the statue’s identification, archaeologists really feel that the statue was probably used as an providing to the gods . In keeping with the Heritage Daily , warfare between Maya cities , like in different cultures, largely occurred within the quest for political management or acquisition of latest territories and sources.
However one other function might have been to seize victims for human sacrifice to legitimize a ruler or to cow rivals into giving tribute. It was the high-status prisoners that principally landed up on the sacrificial altar, the low standing ones escaping that destiny to be put to slave labor.
The ‘Historic Labyrinth’ or ‘Tzat Tun Tzat’ at Oxkintok. (Adamcastforth/ CC BY-SA 3.0 )
The Maya Metropolis of Oxkintok
Oxkintok is positioned within the Puuc area on the north-western tip of the Yucatán Peninsula . It’s in a mountainous area that’s coated by a thick undergrowth that probably hides many archaeological treasures.
Human exercise in Oxkintok first dates from the Mesoamerican Late Pre-Basic interval and there’s proof for continued habitation till the Late Put up-Basic interval. It turned an vital metropolis throughout Late Basic interval (AD 250 to 900) when giant pyramids had been constructed, and town was embellished with intricate iconography and hieroglyphics. It served because the capital of the area earlier than the emergence of Uxmal.
Round AD 1500, human exercise on the website appears to have ceased, though there is no such thing as a proof of famine or warfare to account for its abandonment.
Archaeological Discoveries alongside the Maya Practice Route
The Maya train has been divided into seven sections, of which the INAH has completed excavating Sections 1-3 and 5, and can quickly full its work in Part 4. Sections 6 and seven are being prospected nonetheless.
The work has uncovered a wealth of archaeological finds, about which Diego Prieto is reported by the Mexican Information Each day to have mentioned, “We’ve uncovered data that can nourish the information of the Mesoamerican Maya world for a minimum of the following twenty years. This work will undoubtedly impression the research of Maya cultures … over many, a few years.”
Map of among the primary historic websites dotted alongside the brand new practice route. ( INAH)
To date, finds on the practice route embody 31,306 buildings, 1,541 ceramics and chiseled stones, 463 units of bones, 1,040 pure options equivalent to caves, 708,428 ceramic figures and fragments (from sections 1-4) and 576 items within the course of of study.
The headless (warrior?) statue is likely one of the INAH’s most intriguing current finds alongside the route. Whereas clearly representing a human determine, every thing else about it’s nonetheless shrouded in thriller. Although seemingly possessed of male genitals, archaeologists aren’t prepared to decide to its gender.
If certainly the statue has a male member, does it characterize “Yum keeb” the Maya god of fertility or is its lacking head indication that it was made within the picture of a sufferer of human sacrifice? And was it offered to the gods in lieu of a flesh-and-blood sacrifice? All these are questions that detailed investigations might be able to present solutions to.
Prime picture: The life-size headless Maya statue being extracted from the bottom at Oxkintok Supply: INAH
By Sahir Pandey