Restoration | The Enigmatic Posture Found in Megalithic Sculptures Throughout the Ancient World

Restoration | The Enigmatic Posture Found in Megalithic Sculptures Throughout the Ancient World

The so-called hands-to-navel figure arrangement is an incredibly enigmatic posture found all throughout the sculpture artwork of the ancient world. Though, to this day, there’s no consensus on why elaborate figures were crafted in this very particular manner.

But the true mystery still remains in the fact that civilizations on nearly every continent [besides Antarctica] were creating nearly identical figures when they supposedly had no contact with each other.

Here, as seen in the well-known Easter Island moai, are some of the more recognizable examples of this unique design. The figures’ hands come from the side to nearly join together to rest just beneath their navel with some sort of object positioned between or just beneath the fingers. Additionally, the figures are wearing another very iconic element: a massive object on their head—which is another aspect commonly found throughout the world, and which we’ll see in some of the other examples in this article.


In the Bada valley, located in Indonesia, we find an abundance of these precisely carved figures holding the same enigmatic pose. Some are said to depict women, while others clearly depict men.

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As with the figures found on Easter island, the figures found in the Bada valley come from an unknown civilization and were also produced and moved with unknown means. Estimates of how old these figures may be range up to 6000 years, though such dates give only a minimal scope, and like all constructions dated using similar means, they may in fact be much older. Also, like the Easter island figures, they seem to be sporadically arranged around a large area.

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Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, the oldest known megalithic site in the world at 11,000+ years of age, also features large pillars holding the same posture as seen above.

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Though, in the case of the Gobekli Tepe figures, a more minimalist form stands out. While the arms and hands are clear, the bodies and heads appear much more simplified. However, other incredibly detailed figures exist. We do still see an enormous object on top of the figures base form—as seen in the Easter Island moai. Whether these are just greatly exaggerated heads or the same object we see around the world on top of similar figures remains up for speculation.

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Moving to Ireland, we find the same posture in multiple figures spaced about northern region, with an island known as Boa now holding the prime example.

Out of every example detailed here of this enigmatic and prolific posture, these figures from Ireland appear to be the oldest, or at the very least, the most heavily worn; though that wear does appear to be the result of extreme age. Human interaction with the subjects over the last century, including uprooting and moving them, has amounted to a very troublesome task in regards to giving anywhere near a relative dating for these figures.

The smaller of the figures in the picture shown appears to be substantially older, while the larger figure, appearing to be relatively more recent, shows similar tweaks or elaborations upon the form that this article is focusing on which generally can be found in more recent examples of this posture.

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Throughout Mesoamerica, we find numerous examples of similar figures throughout the Mayan, Aztec, and Toltec cultures.

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Known as chacmool, these figures share the same basic hand and arm posture seen in the examples above, however they’re typically reclined. These chacmool have been found in various locations between Mexico and El Salvador. They’re often seen holding a mysterious object between their hands or pointing to it with their fingers as it sits just beneath their navel. The object, in more recent creations, is sometimes in the shape of a bowl; these figures are thought to have been tweeked so as to have a ceremonial function.

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Below is a compilation I came across put together by another researcher named Ozgur Etli who also spotted this enigmatic phenomenon [all credit to him for this image]

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