Engraved Conch Choker Discovered on the Mayan Train Route in Mexico

A choker sculpted on a conch shell and engraved with representations of four Mayan figures was found by archaeologists along the Mayan Train route in the town Nicolás Bravo in Quintana Roo, Wired reported on Wednesday.

The pre-Hispanic choker depicts four figures in profile each with a band on its forehead. Two appear to be gazing to the right, while the other two look to the left. Semi-elliptic in shape, the piece measures 3.8 inches long by 1.2 inches wide and is 1 millimeter thick. It is believed the choker may date to the Terminal Classic period (830–900 CE).

The artifacts in this area are likely linked to diplomatic exchanges between ancient elites, including nobles, priests, and political leaders. Diplomacy was used often to maintain political stability in a conflict-prone area and quickly became a fundamental practice among the ancient Mayans.

The choker is being held for further study by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH).

The Maya Train project is being developed to connect Yucatán’s historical sites to bolster tourism and to promote local indigenous cultures. This is hardly the first artifact to be discovered as the project continues—last year, for example, an entire Mayan city was discovered in Mexico. A new museum is in the works to house these and other artifacts.