One was hand dug by an army of men bearing shovels and spades working deep underground in high-risk conditions. The other boasts giant machines worth millions of pounds that bore deep below modern-day London.
Humans have been digging in the Earth since the dawn of the Neolithic Revolution, some 12,000 years ago. While the earliest agriculturalists had to make do with shovels crudely fashioned from animal bones—shoulder blades were a popular choice—later material advances (namely stone, wood, and metal) led to the development of modern shovel designs and their specialized heads are purpose-built, like spades for digging in solid soil and shovels for moving loose material like coal or grain.
Stone figures from the Mezcala river basin have been known in Mexico for many years, exposed by the spade of occasional archeologists, the shovels of roadbuilders, and the plows of peasants in the remote mountain valleys of Guerrero. But until recently, this sculpture was but little known and less appreciated. As was the case with the art of so many archaic cultures, it took the experience of modern art to open our eye to this ancient art's force and beauty.