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Monte Alto
Pacific Lowlands Ceramic Gallery 
 Lowlands and Highlands Sculpture  Gallery

Located 20 Km. South East from Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, and 4 Km. from La Democracia, Monte Alto (1800 BC to 200 AD) is a large predominately Late Pre Classic regional center. There is a light Early to Middle Pre Classic presence but significantly less than either El Bálsamo or Los Cerritos Sur located about 10 km west and east of Monte Alto respectively. The site has 45 major structures, being the tallest a Pyramid 10 m. high

A Mysterious Giant Head, This stone head had very fine features: thin lips, a large sharp nose, leaving an overall Caucasian interpretation. The eyes of the head are closed. Its size is enormous, at least 30 feet, as can be calculated from the three men sitting on top and the car parked in front of the statue. Photo 1940's by the owner of the Finca, near Monte Alto.  Unfortunately it was destroyed in an attempt of selling it.

The Monte Alto Culture is the Oldest in Mesoamérica and undoubtedly it was the Original Culture that lead other cultures such as the Olmec and Maya. The archeologist refer to them as Pre-Olmec, Why not Pre-Maya?, but they deserve to be named with their own Name. Several scholars have found ceramic and sculpture proofs  that the Olmecs developed its culture in this area and them emigrated to Veracruz.

Although Monte Alto is noted for its corpus of boulder sculptures (heads and potbellies or Fat Boys),  more than a dozen tabular shaped stone Stelas were found as well as three stone Altars.  15 plain Stelas were recorded at Monte Alto and one alignment of three large plain Stelas erected in a north south line could have served astronomical purposes as a means for recording days and the position of the sun for agricultural purposes, in fact, The azimuth from the principal pyramid to the south Stela marked the winter solstice on December 21. The sun rose over the central Stela on February 19,  February 19 at midnight marks the eastern elongation of Eta Draconis during the Late Preclassic period. According to Marion Popenoe de Preolmec  Head in La Democracia. Monte Alto CultureHatch, Eta Draconis shows unusual stability and that from 1800 B.C. to A.D. 500 the annual date of its meridian midnight transit varied less than one day (Popenoe de Hatch, 1975). She has shown that alignments of certain monuments at Tak'alik  Abaj, also mark the eastern elongation of Eta Draconis at various periods during  Tak'alik Abaj existence.

Many of the Monte Alto sculptures are magnetic as well. Inasmuch as certain distinctive patterns of magnetism recur with some frequency, it would Potbelly displayed at La Democracia, Escuintlaappear that the sculptures were executed by artisans who were aware of these properties. If this is true, the Monte Alto sculptures no doubt deserve recognition as the oldest known magnetic artifacts in the world.

Two general styles of sculpture stem from the Monte Alto site -- one representing a human head, and the other, a human body. Since both the heads and the bodies are rather crudely shaped from large, rounded basaltic boulders, the subjects have a decidedly corpulent appearance. Because they
seem to be male figures, they have been termed "fat boys" in the archaeological literature.

Of the collection of "fat boy" sculptures from Monte Alto on display in the town park of La Democracia, Guatemala and in front of its local museum, four of the heads and three of the bodies were found to have magnetic properties. All four of the heads have a north magnetic pole located in their right temples, while three of them have south magnetic poles below the right ear and the fourth (that in front of the museum) has a south magnetic pole in its left temple, Such a pattern of occurrence is unlikely to be a matter of chance, even in a sample size as small as four.

There is also a substantial Early Classic occupation but it is largely localized at Structure 6, a large platform located well to the northeast. Commerce with Kaminal Juyú and Chocolá, besides Tak'alik Abaj is well documented.

Potbelly at Monte Alto site in
Structure 3

Monument 2



Monumental Magnetic heads

Ceremonial Hatch

Monument 10

Structure Excavation

Mask (Stolen on 2002 from La Democracia Museum)



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Last updated 28/01/2011 17:07:35 -0500
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