On Carved Stone Seats (Metates): Honduras as Central American

Elaborated metates… are relatively rare in Mesoamerica, whereas they are virtually a defining trait of Lower Central American civilizations, and consequently remain almost unknown to Mesoamericanists.

–Mark Miller Graham (1992:167)

When I was beginning my career in Honduran archaeology, I was taught that it was the “frontier” of Mesoamerica, the culture area* that extended from central Mexico and included all of Guatemala and Belize, but only part of Honduras and El Salvador.

As a graduate student working in Honduras, I began to educate myself about what existed on the other side of that “frontier” by reading then-recent works by Fred Lange and Doris Stone, Paul Healy, and Olga Linares that grappled with defining the archaeology of Lower Central America, including Honduras.

Every discussion, sooner or later, mentioned the carved stone benches in the form of corn-grinding platforms, or metates, found from eastern Honduras to Costa Rica and Panama.

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