Peru el Waka (Mexiko)

Archaeologists report discovery of Maya corn god statue in Palenque, Chiapas



Mexico News Daily,, Juni, 3, 2022

The sculpture lay hidden for more than 1,000 years

The artifact was exposed to humidity and is now undergoing a slow drying process, after which it will be restored by specialists. Youtube screenshot / INAH TV

An approximately 1,300-year-old sculpture of the head of the Maya maize god has been uncovered at the Palenque archaeological site in the southern state of Chiapas.

Experts with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) found the effigy of the young god last year but the discovery wasn’t reported until this week. INAH said in a statement that it was the first time that a stucco head of the important Maya deity had been found at Palenque, which started out as a village around 150 B.C. before becoming a powerful Maya city.

An interdisciplinary team working on a United States government-funded conservation project found the sculpture last July in the Palace, a large, elevated complex of several connected and adjacent buildings and courtyards.

“The team … observed a careful alignment of stones while removing the filler in a corridor that connects rooms of House B of the Palace to those of the adjacent House F. Inside a semi-square receptacle … and beneath a layer of loose dirt the nose and partially open mouth of the divinity emerged,” INAH said.

The mouth and nose of the maize god

The mouth and nose of the maize god were the first features of the sculpture to emerge. Proyecto Arqueológico Palenque. INAH

The length of the stucco head is 45 centimeters while its width is 16 centimeters. It was found lying in an east to west position, “which would symbolize the birth of the corn plant with the first rays of the sun,” INAH said. Experts described the maize god’s facial features as “graceful.”

“The chin is pointed, pronounced and split [and] the lips are thin and project outwards,” said González and two of his colleagues, according to the INAH statement. “… The cheekbones are smooth and rounded and the eyes are long and thin. From a broad, long, flat and rectangular forehead a wide and pronounced nose grows.”

The sculpture, “conceived originally as a severed head,” was found on a broken “tripod plate” made from clay, INAH said. “Due to the ceramic type of the tripod plate that accompanies the head of the young, tonsured maize god … the archaeological context has been dated to the late classic period (A.D. 700-850).”

INAH said that vegetable matter, bones of various animals including turtles, quail and domestic dogs, shells, crab claws, ceramic pieces, miniature anthropomorphic figurines and pieces of obsidian blades and seeds among other items were also deposited in a closed-off compartment where the sculpture – which lay hidden for about 1,300 years –  was found.

“The positioning of these elements was … concentric, … covering 75% of the cavity, which was sealed with loose stones,” González said.

“Some animal bones had been cooked and others have … teeth marks,” he said, explaining that indicated that meat was eaten by the inhabitants of Palenque as part of a ritual.

The maize god head was exposed to humidity and is currently undergoing a process of gradual drying, INAH said, adding that it will subsequently be restored by specialists.


1,300-Year-Old Mayan Corn God Head Discovered in Mexico

The finding was part of an offering placed on a pond, thought to replicate the entrance to the underworld.

Summer is the season for corn worshippers, so it’s the perfect time of year to appreciate a recent archeological discovery from Palenque in Chiapas. The highlands and dense rainforest of this southern Mexican state, which borders Guatemala, are flecked with Mayan archaeological sites, one of which recently produced an approximately 1,300-year-old sculpture representing the head of a Mayan maize god, according to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

A statement by INAH released on May 31 noted that the artifact was found facing east to west, “which would symbolize the birth of the maize plant with the first rays of the sun.” The sculpture was discovered during conservation work on a corridor connecting sections of a palace complex, inside a pond receptacle “emulating the entrance of the deity to the underworld.”











Corn was a crop of huge significance to various peoples of Mesoamerica, and the maize god was subsequently one of the most important deities, especially in the Classic Period, the golden age of the Mayan Empire. According to research by the Dallas Museum of Art, the earliest representations of the maize god appear among the Early Classic Maya and typically depict a young male with stylized maize on the top of the head. During the Late Classic Period, the so-called “Tonsured Maize God” represented “mature and fertile maize, depicted with an elongated human head shaved in sections across the forehead.” The Palenque sculpture fits with these stylistic parameters.

The sculpture was placed on a pond. (photo by Palenque INAH Archaeological Project)

Because the sculpture was found under extremely wet and humid conditions, it required a period of drying out before restoration efforts could be undertaken. The interdisciplinary team that makes up the initiative to restore the find is co-directed by archaeologist Arnoldo González Cruz and restorer Haydeé Orea Magaña from INA

The discovery was made during conservation work on a palace complex. (photo by Palenque INAH Archaeological Project)

“The discovery allows us to begin to know how the ancient Maya of Palenque constantly relived the mythical passage of the birth, death, and resurrection of the maize deity,” said Cruz in the statement released by INAH.

As we head out for a season of corn on the cob and celebrating colonial holidays, we might all take a moment to give thanks and salute this a-maize-ing discovery!