Saturday, January 04, 2014

Magnetic (Turtle) Stone Head

The Izapa Ruins,: Home of the Mayan Calendar, a Rarely Visited Olmec-Mayan Site near Tapachula, Mexico: 

Another important discovery was made here (Izapa) in 1975. A giant stone turtle head , was found to possess magnetic properties that convert into a huge bar magnet. When a compass is held in front of the nose, the needle moves from north to point due west. It has the opposite effect when held at the back of the head. A third magnetic field is found below the right eye. It has been determined that these are due to magnetite inside the stone, not to plugs inserted artificially. The sculptor, aware of the magnetite, carved the head around them.

Why? Something that floated in a bowl of water on top of the head, it acts like the needle of a compass. Interestingly, sea turtles are known for their unerring homing instincts as they cross vast bodies of water to lay eggs in specific places. A magnetic bar has also been found in the region.
The Izapans are known to have established sea routes for trade as far as Ecuador. But the head is far too big to use on a ship. Perhaps the head was used as a model for making smaller ones, or to preserve the knowledge of how to make a compass.

"The earliest magnetic sculpture discovered in Mesoamerica was this carved turtle-head located about 30 m (100 ft) off the main pyramid of Group F at Izapa, identified by the author in 1975. In the inventory of monuments compiled at the site, this was catalogued as A 54..."

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