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Mexican archaeologists investigate a group of petroglyphs found in northern Veracruz
The most distinguished petroglyph is the image of a character’s profile, his visible eye is shut, his mouth is open, he wears an earflap, a zoomorphic helmet with a conic element and some sort of cape with an underskirt decorated with triangles and a girdle, as well as ankle bracelets; around him there are symbols related to time and astronomical elements. Photo: Maria Eugenia Maldonado/INAH.
MEXICO CITY.- Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) are registering and investigating a group of petroglyphs that were found at the foot of Cerro del Sombrete, municipality of Alamo-Temapache, in the northern part of Veracruz, among which the representation of a priest or “wise man” stands out. Its symbolism and iconography are linked to the art of “counting time”; this had not been previously registered in the Huastec region.

Said graphic manifestation was inscribed on a great plaque of sedimentary rock (2.90 meters [6.84 feet] by 2.50 meters [6.72 feet]), 500 years of age. It was discovered mid January by citric farmers from the area.

According to Maria Eugenia Maldonado Vite, the archaeologist responsible for the registry, these cultural expressions could possibly be related to the art of “counting time”, the movement of heavenly bodies or a specific homage to the hills.

The most distinguished petroglyph is the image of a character’s profile, his visible eye is shut, his mouth is open, he wears an earflap, a zoomorphic helmet with a conic element and some sort of cape with an underskirt decorated with triangles and a girdle, as well as ankle bracelets; around him there are symbols related to time and astronomical elements.

Judging by his apparel and associated designs, he must represent a priest or a tlamatinime “wise man”. “As far as we know, there hasn’t been a single petroglyph similar to it in Veracruz, which is why this representation, linked to the observation of nature and the art of “counting time”, is so important.

“In his left hand (the only one visible) he wears a symbol that could represent a cane or a time glyph, also the rest of the scene is composed of four elements that can be interpreted as solar or astronomical connotations”, detailed the investigator Maria Eugenia Maldonado Vite.

At the top of the petroglyph we can locate two concentric circles that could represent a chalchihuitl (green precious stone). Behind the character’s cape we can observe a shield divided into four quadrants with quadrangular motives in the lower part.

At his flank and on a superior plane, they located an anthropomorphic figure’s profile (50 cm [19.68 inches] high and 20 cm [7.87 inches] wide) but he is facing the right with facial characteristics similar to those of a priest, and he is also wearing a circular earflap.

Unlike the main character –explained Maldonado Vite–, his trunk, arms and feet are elaborated schematically with lines (they don’t represent hands, just a foot or footwear), he is only wearing a long maxtlatl (loincloth), and judging by his location it’s possible it represents a constellation, not a human being.

The last element is a spiral that ends with an intersection of an irregular horizontal line; this line is also interposed by a vertical line that is separated at the lowest part by two lines that end in a sort of flower or leaf. The meaning of this imagery has not been yet determined.

Although the iconographic style of the petroglyphs is not of any known or similar manufacture used in Huasteca, the symbols seem to be interpretation of elements present in the agriculture of the region, such as the zoomorphic helmet which assimilates one of the sculptures in Teayo Castle, or the similar conic element to the “Death Lord”, a monolith discovered in the community of Las Flores Cinco Poblados.

The study of petroglyphs in the region is still incipient but they are important in the understanding of the cosmogony of societies that inhabited in this region’s area. These findings contribute to enriching and developing cultural knowledge about Veracruz’ Huastec region, concluded Maldonado Vite.







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