model / mask
Model mask made of greenstone.
- Excavated/Findspot: Peten
- (Americas,Central America,Guatemala,Peten)
- Height: 13 centimetres
- Width: 11.3 centimetres
- Depth: 5.7 centimetres
2005/6 Sept-Jan, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Lords Of Creation: Origin of Sacred Maya Kinship
2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
2014 April-June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, "History of the World" PROMISED
1 January 2009
Reason for analysis
The authenticity of the dark green stone model of a mask Am1938,1021.14 and the green stone votive axe Am,St.536: preliminary examination
The authenticity of two stone artefacts, a model of a mask and a large votive axe in the form of a Mexican deity, thought to date from the Mesoamerican Olmec culture of the Preclassic period, c. 1200-400 BC, was assessed. Raman spectroscopy showed that the dark green body of the mask is serpentinite and the green body of the votive axe is jadeite. Both stones have been worked in Mesoamerica since the Preclassic period. The size of the votive axe (c. 29.5 cm high) is however large for jadeite carvings made in pre-Columbian times, prior to 1519. Optical surveys showed that numerous tool marks remain on the mask; fewer tool marks are present on the votive axe. Both artefacts appear to have been worked with hand-held tools: the characteristics of the carved features of the mask are similar to those commonly present on securely dated Olmec stone artefacts whereas some of those on the votive axe differ. Raman spectroscopy also showed that dark brown deposits in recessed features of the votive axe are the remains of a polishing mix of carbon and the iron oxide, hematite; polishing mixes are not usually preserved on ancient artefacts. The results of the present preliminary examinations suggest that the mask was worked in Mesoamerica in pre-Columbian times and the votive axe may be of more recent date, possibly manufactured between 1519 and the mid nineteenth century when the artefact was purchased in Mexico.
Analysis reference number
Africa, Oceania & the Americas
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Object reference number: ESA19203
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