DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  PREHISTORY ARTIFACTS  

 

The untangling of the prehistory of Central America has been a long and combative process, and is ongoing.  In addtion to the impressive ruins, they have also left us a huge number of artifacts; some tools, some art, and some ceremonial.  Many of these have gravitated to museums, but many also are in private collections at home and abroad.

 

But our greatest gift from prehistoric mesoamerica is Maize, ie. corn.  Coaxed from the unassuming grass called teosinte across centuries by poorly understood routes.  In Mexico, many varieties may still be found. Click to see big picture (407x480 pixels; 96 KB)
In various shapes and forms, the stone Metate was used to grind corn and other grains. Click to see big picture (357x480 pixels; 93 KB)
Switching to the southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, many giant Stone Spheres have been discovered, some of two meters diameter.  Locally they are known simply as Las Bolas. Click to see big picture (640x478 pixels; 167 KB)
The reason for their manufacature is not known.  They appear to have been carved between 200 and 1500 AD by groups of the Chibohan Language, but their age is difficult to determine. Click to see big picture (483x480 pixels; 111 KB)
On the other side of Costa Rica, The Alma Ata Archeological Park is the site of excavation of a 600 year old tomb field. Petroglypyic inscriptions are on display. Click to see big picture (640x479 pixels; 159 KB)
Spirals seem to be a common petroglyphic symbol through many varied cultures. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 156 KB)
A cat-glyph.  The Alma Ata Archeological Park is part of the Centro Neotropico Sarapiquis. Click to see big picture (640x354 pixels; 113 KB)
Among the more common motifs are monkeys, shown in stylized form. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 141 KB)
A Warrior Statue, carrying a trophy head. Click to see big picture (305x480 pixels; 78 KB)
A typical circular house platform.  Without the tree, a palenque style of thatch-roofed hut would be on top, in the indigenous tradition. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 141 KB)
The Museo de Culturas Indigenas is also part of the  Neotropical Center.  This is a carved Jicara Gourd from the Maleku Culture, used for carrying liquids. Click to see big picture (494x480 pixels; 91 KB)
On the left, Healing Canes, which were known as Ulus in the Maleku Tribes of northern Costa Rica.  On the right, a mask from their tradition. Click to see big picture (584x480 pixels; 91 KB)
Some more masks from those tribes.  It does not give the impression of a sympathetic culture, but perhaps these were to ward of evil spirits. Click to see big picture (638x480 pixels; 93 KB)
A depiction of some native gymnastic games, at the Antiguo Convento San Francisco in Grenada, Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 44 KB)
The Convento also houses many massive statues which were carved from basalt lava on the nearby Zapatera Island in Lake Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (640x384 pixels; 90 KB)
The statues were created by the Chorotega culture, dating 800-1350 AD.  Zapatera Island appears to have been a major religous and ceremonial center, likely involving human sacrifice. Click to see big picture (551x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Zapatera carvings depict humans, animals or zoomorphic mixtures thereof. Click to see big picture (553x480 pixels; 85 KB)
The statues have been moved to the Convent in Grenada due to looting of the archeological sites on Zapatera Island itself. Click to see big picture (422x480 pixels; 71 KB)
A large, Ceremonial Jaguar Metate from pre-columbian Costa Rica.  Many artifacts have found their way into private collections.  This and the following items grace the author's home. Click to see big picture (640x367 pixels; 54 KB)
This 16th century Owl Carving has a pair of bowls behind it for storing small items. Click to see big picture (640x371 pixels; 72 KB)
A Palmate Stone in the form of a mythological harpy eagle  It would have been related to the Mesoamerican ball game.  From the Tajin region of Veracruz, Mexico.  250- 750 AD. Click to see big picture (640x446 pixels; 72 KB)
This item is much older, 100-500 BC, from Ecuador.  It is called a Pectoral, meaning that it was meant to be worn on a cord around the throat or upper chest. Click to see big picture (640x265 pixels; 58 KB)
This is a sharp-edged Mayan Flint from 600 to 900 AD.  It was found under a stela near Tikal, Guatemala. Click to see big picture (359x480 pixels; 59 KB)
This item is known as a Celt, which is basically a 'chopper', although this one may have been ceremonial.  It is attributed to the Arawak Culture which once flourished over much of the Caribbean and adjacent coasts.  300-700 AD. Click to see big picture (640x367 pixels; 40 KB)
And finally this is a Mayan vase from the Tikal area, thought to date from the 600-900 AD range.  It is a distinctive form a black pottery referred to as 'burnished blackware'. Click to see big picture (598x480 pixels; 96 KB)
A few artisans still produce blackware ceramics.  One center for this is the village of Las Curenas near Jinotega, Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (470x480 pixels; 93 KB)