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Originally thought to be bas-relief sculptures of dancing people these figures are found mostly around Building L.

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 see.