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October 9, 2022

Engraved shell plaque depicting figures

This engraved shell plaque, recovered by researchers at the ancient Mayan port site Vista Alegre, depicts two central seated figures facing each other, with each holding a banner or standard in their left hand. A third individual (depicted in smaller scale) is seated behind the principal figure on the left. The artifact could have been an emblem marking the wearer as a member of a specific trade group or guild. The scene exemplifies the interpersonal interactions behind long-distance coastal exchange networks.

An international team of researchers, supported in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation, is researching the dynamic interplay between social and natural processes that shaped the lives of the ancient Maya over the last 3,000 years. Called "The Proyecto Costa Escondida," or "hidden coast" project, the research focuses on the ancient Mayan port sites of Vista Alegre and Conil.

[Research supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grant BCS 1530245.]

Learn more in the Georgia State University news story Unlocking the secrets of the ancient coastal Maya. (Date of image: ; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Oct. 9, 2022)

Credit: Photo courtesy of the Proyecto Costa Escondida


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