By: Sam Doak
December 8 2022
This image shows an sculpture created in 2014 that has frequently been misrepresented as an ancient artwork.
Images of a sculpture resembling the superhero Batman are circulating online, leading some users on social media to claim that the artwork is of ancient Mesoamerican origin. A common variation of this claim states the sculpture was created in the Maya period and depicts an entity identified as Camazotz, a bat-related spirit present in the religions of pre-Columbian Central America
This image does not depict an ancient artifact. Instead, it shows a sculpture by the artist Kimbal. Completed in 2014 for an exhibition organized by the Mexican Museum of Design, "Batman Camazotz" was not intended to be interpreted as an ancient work.
The fiberglass sculpture was created to form part of an exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of the batman character. Images of the work before completion confirm that it is a contemporary piece.
Kimbal appears aware of how his work has been taken out of context. An uncaptioned video on the artist's site shows an American newscaster discussing the "Batman Camazotz" and concluding that the work is not of ancient origin.
While Camazotz and bat-like figures are prominently featured in ancient Mayan art, these depictions vary considerably from the modern character Batman. Such works do not generally depict clothing but rather show human-like figures with bat-related features such as wings. Needless to say, no piece of pre-Columbian art has ever been found to be comprised of fiberglass components.
Kimbal's piece is just one of several contemporary artworks that have been misinterpreted as ancient artifacts in recent years. Notable examples of this include "Babylonokia," a 2012 artwork by Karl Weingärtner that has been consistently misrepresented as being a historical depiction of a mobile phone. Stripped of context, works like these frequently receive high engagement on social media and clickbait-type sites.
The image in question does not show an ancient depiction of the character Batman. It shows instead a 2014 fiberglass sculpture created by the artist Kimbal. The design and origin of this piece are well documented, and it varies considerably from pre-Columbian depictions of Camazotz. This claim has therefore been marked as false.