Ancient Map Carved on Volcanic Stone Registered by INAH

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) announced on June 14th, 2020 that they entered into their registry of public monuments an ancient map carved on a massive volcanic stone that’s creation has been dated sometime between 200 BC and 200 AD. This is about 1800 to 2200 years old.

The artifact was registered on June 7th, 2020, exactly a week prior to the public announcement. The institute itself reported that the registration occurred only a few days after a citizens’ complaint was filed against the INAH Colima Center.

While artifacts dating to the Chanal or Postclassic Colimense phase (1000–1500 AD) have been found near the monument, the comparisons to early tombs from the Late Preclassic and Early Classic periods have led the team to date it to the 200 BC to 200 AD period.

The volcanic stone is located about 8.6 miles south of Volcán de Colima. It’s been there reportedly for thousands of years ever since the volcano originally threw it there during an eruption. Below is a map to give you a sense of the geographical location of the find. The red mark is where the volcano which produced the rock is located.

Julio Ignacio Martinez de la Rosa, the top local INAH official, reports that “just in the La Campana Archaeological Zone, in the city of Colima … we’ve counted more than 100 petroglyphs”.

The stone weighs over 4000 pounds. Whoever carved it used three methods that have been identified so far: chipping, sanding, and polishing. These methods were used to manipulate the rock into representing the surrounding areas. There are “small circular cavities” carved into the rock which might be representing the location of the communities who carved it. This particular discovery might prove useful for modern studies in determining where people were living in ancient times.

“The highest part of the stone – which is 1.7 meters (5.6 feet) high and ranges in width from 2.12-2.77 meters … – has its axis oriented approximately 20 degrees to the northeast, that is, toward the … volcano” – R. P. Ruiz

The official in charge of examining cultural heritage items, archaeologist Rafael Platas Ruiz, reports “There’s no doubt that these stone-maps helped people know about – and facilitated the management of – their lands. Also, they were a way of preserving the knowledge from one generation to another in an epoch in which no writing existed in the territory that today is Colima”.

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