Massive monuments and two carved limestone Olmec reliefs of local rulers have been recovered from the municipality of Tenosique in south-eastern Mexico. The rulers in this extremely rare Olmec relief style are depicted in a divine trance state in a ritual contortionist pose, which is said to reduce oxygen levels in the brain.
The Olmec Civilization and Two Very Strange Olmec Reliefs
Archaeologists from the National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH) announced the discovery on Friday, after receiving word from some locals in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico.
The large circular limestone Olmec reliefs are about 1.40 meters (4.59 feet) in diameter and show a face with “celestial” jaws, wearing a diadem made from four corncobs and a mirror with the “Olmec cross” in the center.
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This cross is marked by a glyph that is associated with the figure of the jaguar, and is traditionally featured in elite Olmec clothing , according to a INAH press release .
On either side of the face are jaguar footprints. The mouth is depicted in the “grumpy mouth” style, which alludes to a jaguar roaring.
Both Olmec reliefs have a square-shaped face with a diadem, which archaeologists have traced to the central Usumacinta region of Mexico, between the mouth of the Chacamax River and the mouth of the San Pedro River.
The Olmecs were an early Mesoamerican civilization and are often referred to as the mother culture of Mesoamerica. The word Olmec derives from the Nahuatl word, Olemactl or Olemecah, which means “rubber people.”
Tenosique, where the two Olmec reliefs were discovered, is located along the Usumacinta River, and was the key region during the Olmec formative period (900-400 BC), reports Heritage Daily
These Olmec Reliefs Suggest Early Maya Influences
“It is possible that these faces evolved and derived in the Maya ‘ajaw’ altars, such as those of the Caracol site, in Belize, which tells us about the permanence of this theme for more than three centuries, already by the Classic periods. The word ajaw means ‘the one who shouts’, ‘the one who commands’, ‘the one who orders’ and in these Mayan monuments the mouth stands out, a feature that must come from Olmec times, especially from these circular reliefs of ‘contortionists’ that are portraits of local chiefs,” explained the director of the INAH Tabasco Centre, Carlos Arturo Giordano Sanchez Verin.