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3,400-Year-Old Ball Court Found in Mexico’s Highlands

Monday, March 16, 2020

Mexico Ballplayer FigurineWASHINGTON, D.C.—According to a Science News report, Jeffrey Blomster and Victor Salazar Chávez of George Washington University and their colleagues have found a ball court estimated to be 3,400 years old at the site of Etlatongo in the mountains of southern Mexico, pushing back the arrival of the game in the highlands by about 800 years. It had been previously thought that the game originated in settlements located on the Gulf Coast and the Pacific lowlands. Found underneath a larger ball court built around 1200 B.C., the court covered an area of about 1,500 square yards and featured stone walls and benches. Charred animal bones, plant remains, human bones, and pieces of ceramic ballplayer figurines suggest it had been burned when it was taken out of use. “Multiple regions and societies were involved in developing a blueprint for the ball court used in a formal ball game across Mesoamerica,” Blomster said, although how the ball game was first played remains unknown. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Science Advances. To read about an ancient Peruvian ritual game, go to "Bringing Back Moche Badminton."

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