Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2006:
Michael Love

The Context and Associations of Monument 3 from La Blanca, Guatemala
With contributions by:  Julia Guernsey (University of Texas at Austin).
Vea este informe en Español.

Figure 1. Map of Pacific Guatemala showing the location of La Blanca and other sites.

Research Year:  2005
Culture:  Maya
Chronology:  Pre-Classic
Location:  Guatemala
Site:  La Blanca

Table of Contents

Physical Characteristics of Monument 3
Materials and Techniques of Manufacture
The Archaeological Context of La Blanca Monument 3
La Blanca
Mound 9: An Elite Residence of the Conchas Phase
The Artifact Assemblage of Mound 9
Tables: Frequency of Ceramic Wares (rims only) in Operation 32
Non-pottery Artifacts and Ecofacts
Monument 3 as the Locus of Ritual
Preliminary Conclusions
List of Figures
List of Tables
Sources Cited


During the 2004 season at La Blanca, Guatemala (Figure 1, shown above) a unique monument of clay and earth was discovered during the excavation of what was presumed to be an elite residence. Monument 3 from La Blanca (Figure 2) is notable in several respects. First, it is one of a handful of earthen sculptures from ancient Mesoamerica, and the earliest example of such presently known. Second, it provides dramatic evidence of rituals performed during the early part of the Middle Formative period (900-600 B.C.) in ancient Mesoamerica. Third, it is the earliest known example of the quatrefoil motif in Mesoamerican art. Monument 3 also serves to examine the validity of oppositions such as public/private, ritual/utilitarian, and Great Tradition/Little Tradition in the archaeology of Mesoamerica as well as other regions.

A grant from FAMSI provided for the analysis of materials associated with Monument 3 and a comparison of those materials with other assemblages from La Blanca. A central goal of the study was to determine whether the low mound associated with Monument 3 was an elite residence, as initially thought, or a more "public" building.

Before discussing the results of the analysis, we'll first briefly describe the monument and its context. A more complete description of the excavations and discussion of the iconography of the quatrefoil are available in Love et al. (2006).

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Submitted 06/28/2006 by:
Dr. Michael Love
Department of Anthropology
California State University, Northridge

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