By CNN Mexico Staff
A granite statue that could be more than 1,000 years old, carved with the effigy of a Mesoamerican ball player, has been discovered in the Mexican state of Guerrero, the country's National Institute of Anthropology and History said.
The statue was found a few weeks ago when residents of Ometepec, a municipality southwest of Mexico City, were installing pipes to transport water to the archaeological zone of Piedra Labrada, according the institute.
Pablo Sereno Uribe, the archaeologist in charge of the research, explained that the statue "is the representation of a decapitated ball game player. He has his arms crossed over his chest, and the legs are slightly curved. Accessories such as a helmet, a yoke close to his waist and round stones or 'chalchihuites' in the ears were observed.”
The statue, which was found cut in two parts, is 5.41 feet long and has a width of 19.68 inches, and it’s believed to be Mixteca (from the Mixteca Region, in the state of Oaxaca). According to Sereno Uribe, the statue belongs to the Mesoamerican classic period.
Researchers believe the statue was created as part of the landscape and was "decapitated" and buried during a ritual carried out in pre-Hispanic times, according to investigators. Based on the antiquity of the area, with its Mixteca-style sculptures and how the plazas are distributed, perhaps the statue was created in A.D. 600, but more research is needed, Sereno Uribe said.
Sereno Uribe added that a proposal would be presented to the National Institute of Anthropology and History Council of Archaeology to excavate the area in order to find ceramics. That would help the investigators find out more about the origins of the statue, which currently is being protected at a local police station.
Piedra Labrada has an expanse of 2 square kilometers (less than one mile), and since 2011 investigators have been mapping the area to learn about its characteristics, the size of the constructions, how the town squares were divided and which sculptural materials are in the area.
The zone had about 50 buildings of about 9 to 16 feet tall on top of various platforms, five ball fields and more than 20 sculptures of several sizes. The sculptures depict such things as snakes, snails and humans.Follow @CNNLightYears