Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Meeting with the Speaking Stones of La Mojarra Monument 1

Arnold Talk in February Escorts Members into the Ancient Political Past of Mexico 
~ report by Bob Stelton ~

Loyola Professor Philip Arnold spends his summers and some holidays in Veracruz pursuing connections between several archaeological sites such as Matacanela, Totocapan, and Piedra Librada. And he is finding connections between these sites more interesting than influences from other Mayan or Teotihuacan sites. One example that he taught us about was the connections between the Tuxtla Statuette and Stela 1 at Mojarra. The Tuxtla Statuette of a bird beaked (or masked) figure has several glyphs and a Maya-looking long count date of March 162 AD. The Mojarra Stela 1 has two dates: one is 143 and the other 156, both within 20 years of each other. Other features can be compared.

The Mojarra Stela has a lengthy text, but the glyphs and the dates on both sculptures seem to validate each other. The text is Epi-Olmec or Isthmian and is related to the MixeZoque.  The elders of a local family remembered much of a similar language that was helpful to epigraphers. It is about Harvest Mountain Lord, blood-letting and decapitation when taken captive. Certain mountains are in view of both sites. To learn more about the text, you can find online Epi-Olmec Hieroglyphic Writing by Terrance Kaufman and John Juteson. It is fascinating, but you will need about a year to understand it. https:// EOTEXTS.pdf

One can also look at the image of a ruler on the stela and try to figure out the accompanying imagery.  A “Fish-Monster” head seems to adorn the ruler’s head and the body trails down beside him. What has been identified as a fin at the top has suggested a large serrated knife to Prof. Arnold. While at another site he and another archaeologist witnessed a farmer plowing his field, who turned up a twosided flat piece of rock. They found two more pieces that fit together forming the image of a large serrated knife!

Dr. Arnold thinks that sometimes what we think is wrong, but it leads to more investigation. It turns out to be good. He explained so much that we would need several more pages to cover everything we learned from his informative and witty presentation.

The CAS thanks you, Dr. Arnold, and hopes to follow your progress as your history of conversations with La Mojarra Monument is expanded.

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