Rare trove of Mayan ceremonial jade stones discovered

Rare trove of Mayan ceremonial jade stones discovered

Rare trove of Mayan ceremonial jade stones discovered
Archaeologists have discovered a trove of polished jade and serpentine stones - dating from about 1,000 to 450 BC - that were used in public ceremonies in the early Mayan civilisation. The elongated greenstones, called celts, were discovered in Guatemala, and may provide new insights about the Mayan culture.

The researchers from Ibaraki University in Japan found 18 cross-shaped holes in the ground called caches, which contained 72 polished greenstone celts. This is the largest single find of celts in the Mayan lowlands dating from the era, they said.

The early years of the Mayan civilisation are relatively poorly understood. Many of the archaeological remains from this time have been buried by those of the later Mayans and by modern developments.

"Among the items highly prized by pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people were objects carved in hard greenstone. The polished greenstone celts from Ceibal were manufactured from jade, metagabbro, serpentine and other metamorphic greenstone," said Kazuo Aoyama of Ibaraki University, who led the study.

The colour of the stones is thought to have spiritual significance for the early Mayans, as green was associated with the centre of the world, the 'International Business Times UK' reported.

The celts were buried in caches in the central plaza of the settlement. They were placed close to large ceremonial structures, hinting that they held a ritual or ceremonial role in the culture.

They are thought to have been used in ceremonies to establish the elites of the pre-classical Mayan society, researchers wrote in the journal Antiquity. "The emerging elite probably played a primary role in these rituals, setting a template for later public events centred on rulers," Aoyama said.
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