Mexico,  South America

Pre-Columbian masks & statues

Q: My fiance just found in his 24 yr old Arizona storage unit what he termed a pre-Columbian figurine that shows the back was broken off some other clay object. He said “it’s the real deal”. It is 3-inches tall. Wondered if I send you pix if you could shed some more light on the authenticity and possible age? Pam, 1642

A: Small fired-clay masks and other sculptural fragments have been turning up at various parts of Meso-America for 100s of years. Often attractive, they can also be of archaeological interest. Eventually some of the skillful locals found they could easily replicate these artifacts and sell them to the rich Gringos… sometimes for mucho dinero. I doubt if yours is the “real deal,” but you didn’t have to pay much. Frankly, I would love to display your piece in my house. It’s a nice little statue.

Also remember there are commercial labs that can measure the age of ceramic or stone samples. Of course, they charge a fee to tell you it is over 500 years old or not.

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