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Juxtlahuaca Cave, Guerrero, Mexico

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A deep cave extending nearly 2 km into the hills of Guerrero east of Chilpancingo, near the village of Colotipa. It is important because of the polychrome paintings in some of the inner passages, approximately 1.2 km from the entrance, which were discovered by art historian Gillett Griffin and retired Italian businessman Carlo Gay. The paintings are believed to date to about 1000 bc, the oldest documented in the Americas, and were done in the Olmec style, although the site lies well outside the heartland of Olmec influence. Among the images is a tall bearded figure in a red and yellow striped tunic, limbs clad in jaguar pelts, brandishing a trident‐like object over a second, black‐faced figure interpreted as a captive. Other motifs include the feathered serpent, jaguars, and crosses resembling St Andrew's cross. Throughout Mesoamerica, caves and caverns were held to be entrances into the underworld; this site may have been connected with secret rites celebrated by Olmec living on the edge of their domain.


A. K. Romne, 1973, The Mixtecans of Juxtlahuaca, Mexico. Huntington, NY: R. E. Krieger

Subjects: Archaeology

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