Mysterious Mayan ceremonial head found at Tak´alik Ab´aj
Posted by Xeno on May 12, 2010
Discovery of an extraordinary offering of a jadeite mosaic miniature ceremonial head underscores the importance and political power at the beginning of Early Classic of the ancient Maya city Tak’alik Ab’aj
Tak’alik Ab’aj is an ancient pre-Hispanic city situated in El Asintal, Department of Retalhuleu at the pacific piedmont of Guatemala. This important long distance trade and cosmopolitan cultural center is transcendent because of its long history which endured 1700 years (800 B.C. – 900 A.D). At its beginnings Tak’alik Ab’aj interacted and participated with the Olmec culture, and at its surmise, was one of the protagonists in the development of the early Maya culture. This particularity in addition to the extraordinary production of sculpture programs during these two important cultural periods, make Tak’alik Ab’aj unique in the history of Mesoamerica.
Previous excavations conducted in the center of Structure 6 – one of the most important ceremonial buildings of the main architectonic complex called Central Group at Tak’alik Ab’aj – revealed a series of precious offerings. These offerings were deposited in a sequence of episodes into the earthen construction fill of one of the last versions of this building during the first part of Early Classic (150-300 B.C. – Phase Alejos).
These offerings consisted of ceramic vessels, the most beautiful of these vessels is decorated with a stepped fret design; a small pedestal stone sculpture, re-used to ceremonially grind jadeite, plenty of intentionally broken stone grinding artifacts for maize or probably cacao (metates), a pyrite mosaic mirror and a few pieces of jadeite.
On March 23, 2010 the team of archaeologists of Tak´alik Ab´aj, discovered in the ongoing excavations at the center of Structure 6 another extraordinary treasure: an offering of 50 jadeite mosaics which had been deposited into the soil of the mentioned construction fill.
These mosaics compose a miniature ceremonial head with celt like plaques hanging underneath the chin, which were worn as part of the ceremonial waist belt of the rulers, as is vastly represented at the Maya steles from Preclassic to Classic times.
These miniature ceremonial heads are made of jadeite mosaics, masterfully worked in order to fit neatly together like a puzzle.
In previous excavations at Tak’alik Ab’aj archaeologists had experienced the unique opportunity to find a miniature ceremonial head made of blue jadeite mosaics in situ in the royal burial No. 1 which had been introduced in Structure 7, the most sacred building of the Central Group by end of the Late Preclassic (200 B.C. -150 A.D. – Phase Ruth). The precise position of the miniature mosaic head in the waist area of the burial confirmed by then that effectively those miniature heads were part of the ceremonial waist belt, an element which can be considered as important in the royal outfit worn by the rulers as the headdress. …