The most sought-after ancient artifact

The most sought-after ancient artifact, an Olmec sculpture

The most sought-after ancient artifact

As of 2024, the most sought-after ancient artifact is an Olmec sculpture referred to as the “Earth monster. This significant piece of the Olmec civilization, an early Mesoamerican culture, was created between 800 to 400 BCE. The artifact, weighing about one ton and measuring around six by five feet, was recently recovered and is set to be returned to Mexico.

The “Earth monster” represents a crucial aspect of Olmec iconography, depicting a figure whose open mouth symbolizes the passage to the underworld, a theme recurring throughout Olmec art. This artifact, considered as important as the more famous Olmec colossal head sculptures, was created in Chalcatzingo, a well-preserved Olmec city known for its art, ceramics, and structures, including burial mounds and pyramids. The recovery of this artifact is part of Mexico’s initiative to repatriate its cultural heritage, with thousands of objects having been returned in recent years​​​​.

In the broader context of valuable and sought-after artifacts globally, other notable mentions include the Crown of Poland, the Hoxne Coins, and the Cullinan Diamonds. Each of these artifacts carries significant historical and monetary value, with the Cullinan Diamonds, for example, valued at approximately $400 million​​.

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