Research ArticleANTHROPOLOGY

Origins of the Mesoamerican ballgame: Earliest ballcourt from the highlands found at Etlatongo, Oaxaca, Mexico

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Science Advances  13 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 11, eaay6964
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay6964
  • Fig. 1 Location of Etlatongo in Mesoamerica and the setting of its ballcourt.

    (A) Map of central to southern Mesoamerica, showing location of Etlatongo in the Mixteca Alta and other sites referenced in text; dashed lines indicate cultural/geographic regions. (B) Aerial view of the ballcourt on Mound 1-1 (colored blue) in relation to domestic space in Operations G and I (purple) to the north. Base image: Google Earth.

  • Fig. 2 Early ballcourts in Mesoamerica.

    Comparison of early ballcourt cross sections (to scale), with earliest on top, with plan views (not to scale) from Paso de la Amada and La Laguna [redrawn from (28, 33)].

  • Fig. 3 Comparative cross sections of Etlatongo ballcourts.

    Combining the best-preserved profiles, the cross sections show architectonic differences as well as the limited vertical space between the alleys of Structure (Str.) 1-2 and Str. 1-3 (looking north).

  • Fig. 4 Plan views of Etlatongo ballcourts.

    The plan views show the expansion from the earliest ballcourt, Str. 1-2, to the second, Str. 1-3. Str. 1-4 is located atop Str. 1-3’s eastern mound. White squares represent excavation units; numbers 1 to 11 show locations of radiocarbon samples (see table S1).

  • Fig. 5 Close up of ballcourts’ architectural differences.

    (A) While Str. 1-2 has a banquette, Str. 1-3 has a major step or terrace instead that covers the earlier banquette, with a second step visible further to the west, all of which was covered by the termination event. The alley shown is from Str. 1-2 (looking west). (B) Detail of Str. 1-2’s architecture, showing alley, banquette, and eastern mound (looking east). Photo credit: J. Blomster, George Washington University.

  • Fig. 6 Etlatongo ballplayer figurine.

    One of numerous ballplayers from the termination event. Front view shows costume elements, while profile view illustrates broken tripod support at the bottom and a whistle chamber above it. Photo credit: J. Blomster, George Washington University.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/6/11/eaay6964/DC1

    Table S1. Radiocarbon dates associated with Etlatongo’s ballcourts, calibrated with OxCal 4.2/IntCal13.

    Fig. S1. Probability distribution plot model of the calibrated dates of Etlatongo’s ballcourts sorted by construction and termination episodes.

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • Table S1. Radiocarbon dates associated with Etlatongo’s ballcourts, calibrated with OxCal 4.2/IntCal13.
    • Fig. S1. Probability distribution plot model of the calibrated dates of Etlatongo’s ballcourts sorted by construction and termination episodes.

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