Originally thought to be bas-relief sculptures of
dancing people these figures are found mostly around
What can be seen today are the reproductions as the
originals are carefully protected in the Site Museum.
Interpretation: Dancing figures
This original interpretation came from the unusual
positioning of limbs of the figures, but highly stylized
as they were it was hard for Europeans to understand the
true meaning of the figures. Today it is recognized that
many of the scenes involve physical deformities making
this "dancing" interpretation seem unreasonable.
Interpretation: Torture victims
Given the fact that it is known that Early
populations in this area did torture captured war
victims it is no wonder that some people consider that
these carvings represent enemies who have been conquered
and then tortured.
While certainly a possible explanation it seems less
likely than the next option.
Interpretation: Medical examples
The most modern idea is that these carvings actually
are intended to be be medical diagrams showing different
common complaints. This later theory is supported
by one carving thought to show a woman giving birth,
with the baby in breech position, which would be a
dangerous medical condition then as it is today.
Whatever the truth it can not be doubted that they
are certainly some of the most original and interesting
decorative pieces anywhere on the site, and both the
reproductions seen in-situe, and the originals located
in the museum are important things for any visitor to