Monte Alto is an archaeological site on the Pacific Coast in what is now Guatemala.
Monte Alto Art & Sculptures
Although Monte Alto is noted for its sculptures (heads and potbellies), more than a dozen tabular shaped stone stelae were found as well as three stone altars. Fifteen plain stelas were recorded at Monte Alto and one alignment of three large plain stelae erected in a north south line could have served astronomical purposes as a means for recording days and the position of the sun for agricultural purposes. In fact, the azimuth from the principal pyramid to the south stela marked the winter solstice on December 21. The sun rose over the central stela on February 19: February 19 at midnight marked the eastern elongation of the Eta Draconis star in the Pleiads during the Late Preclassic period.
According to Marion Popenoe de Hatch, Eta Draconis shows unusual stability, and, that from 1800 B.C. to A.D. 500, the annual date of its meridian midnight transit varied less than one day. She has shown that alignments of certain monuments at Takalik Abaj, also mark the eastern elongation of Eta Draconis at various periods during Tak'alik Abaj existence.
Two general styles of sculpture are found at the Monte Alto site, one representing a human head, and the other, a human body. Since both the heads and the bodies are rather crudely shaped from large, rounded basaltic boulders, the subjects have a decidedly corpulent appearance. Because they seem to be male figures, they have been termed "potbellies" in the archaeological literature.