Arts & Entertainment

Iconic Olmec stone sculpture repatriated from US now on display at Mexico museum

Mexico City, May 26 (EFE).- A museum in the central city of Cuernavaca is now displaying an iconic, more than 2,500-year-old Olmec stone sculpture that was returned to Mexico a week ago from Denver, Colorado.

Diego Prieto Hernandez, director-general of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), said Thursday during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s morning press conference that the piece – known as “Portal to the Underworld” or “Monster of the Earth” – had been delivered that same day to the Regional Museum of the Peoples of Morelos, a state in south-central Mexico.

“We’re extremely delighted to announce that the ‘Monster of the Earth,’ or ‘Portal to the Underworld,’ is in Mexico, is in Morelos. It’s a very impressive piece,” the official said.

He said the bas-relief sculpture measuring 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) in height and 1.5 m in width and weighing nearly a ton was created by the Olmecs, regarded as Mesoamerica’s first civilization.

“It represents a fantastical creature whose open jaws symbolize the entrance to the underworld,” Prieto Hernandez said.

Although he said it remains unclear how or when the sculpture was illegally removed from Chalcatzingo, an archaeological site in the Valley of Morelos, he said it was first documented in 1968 by archaeologist David Grove in American Antiquity magazine and thus is thought to have been in the United States since the start of the second half of the 20th century.

Prieto Hernandez also said INAH is doing field work with some elderly people in Chalcatzingo who witnessed “how they came and used trickery to take away this monolith.”

He did not specify, however, who may have removed the artifact.

The sculpture is a “national treasure,” according to the INAH director-general, who said it will be returned to the Chalcatzingo archaeological site after being temporarily displayed at the Cuernavaca museum.

Prieto Hernandez said at the press conference that Lopez Obrador’s administration is committed to maintaining and exhibiting archaeological monuments in their communities of origin for reasons both of social justice and the promotion of collective identity.

For her part, the Mexican Culture Secretariat’s head of cultural promotion and festivals, Mariana Aymeric, recalled that 11,771 archaeological, historical and ethnographic pieces have been recovered since Lopez Obrador took office in December 2018.

She added that the Olmec sculpture returned last week had been a top priority in terms of Mexico’s efforts to recover its historical heritage. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button