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Carvings in Southern Mexico May Represent Ritual Ballcourts

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

OAXACA, MEXICO—Thirty carvings depicting possible I-shaped ritual ball courts have been found in natural rock outcrops at the site of the ancient settlement of Quiechapa, according to a Live Science report. The settlement, which is located in southern Mexico, dates back to about 2,300 years ago, said Alex Elvis Badillo of Indiana State University. The carvings, he added, are thought to date to sometime after 100 B.C., based upon the shape of the ball courts. In the sixteenth century, Spanish priest Ruiz de Alarcón wrote of rituals in which Mesoamerican people spilled their blood into small cavities cut into rock. Badillo suggests that these ball court–shaped carvings may have been used in this way. He and his colleagues documented the carvings with structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry to produce 3-D representations of them. He notes that further study is needed, however. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Ancient Mesoamerica. To read about a 3,400-year-old ball court discovered in Oaxaca, go to "Play Ball!"

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