According to a report by Live Science, archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered two Olmec reliefs carved into large circular stones that are believed to depict local rulers engaged in ritual contortion.
The discovery was made in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico, following information provided by locals. The reliefs, weighing 1,543 pounds (700 kilograms) each and measuring 1.40 meters (4.5 feet) in diameter, represent faces with distinctive “celestial” jaws.
The rulers are portrayed wearing a diadem made of four corncobs and holding a mirror with the “Olmec cross” at its center. The Olmec civilization, known for its colossal head sculptures, reigned from 1200 BCE. to 400 BCE. and is considered the first sophisticated pre-Hispanic civilization in Mesoamerica.
These impressive limestone reliefs display the faces of local rulers with grumpy expressions. Each piece is adorned with footprints, a diadem, corncobs, Olmec crosses, and jaguar glyphs. The open mouths of the rulers are meant to represent the roar of the jaguar.
The square-shaped faces with diadems can be traced back to the Usumacinta region in central Mexico, between the mouths of the Chacamax and San Pedro Rivers. The INAH (National Institute of Archaeology and History) highlighted the notable feature of the carved mouths, suggesting that they were a representation of ajaw, a term used to describe figures associated with power and authority.
The reliefs date back to 900 BCE. to 400 BCE. and are believed to depict important figures within Olmec society.
According to Tomás Pérez Suárez, an archaeologist at the Center for Mayan Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the contorted poses shown in the reliefs were believed to grant the rulers special powers.
The reliefs are thought to have originated from the Middle Usumacinta region, bounded by the Chacamax River to the north and the San Pedro River to the south.
The discovery of the reliefs was first reported to the INAH in 2019 through an anonymous tip about their existence on a property in Tabasco’s capital. The sculptures will be exhibited at the Pomoná Site Museum in Tenosique.