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After Much Controversy, Authenticity of Teotihuacan's Mask" Verified

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Sentihauke
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« on: December 11, 2010, 08:22:20 pm »

Authenticity of Teotihuacan's "The Malinaltepec Mask" Verified
By Stephen 10/12/2010 03:21:00
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Malinaltepec Mask Malinaltepec Mask

After a decade of controversy regarding the authenticity of the Malinaltepec Mask, an investigation conducted by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) has verified it is original.

"The Malinaltepec Mask”, a new publication coordinated by Sofia Martinez del Campo, a specialist in funerary masks, integrates 7 studies performed recently by 20 researchers on the Prehispanic piece, confirming it is authentic.

The book deals with substantial and assorted analyses that the piece, made out of 762 tesserae with an approximate age of 1,800 years, underwent. Among the studies are morphometric characterization, mineralogy, petrography, lapidary characteristics, technological analysis and adhesives used to paste decorations.

“Since its discovery in 1921, the mask caused controversy among archaeologists: specialist Porfirio Aguirre thought he had just found one of the great treasures of Mesoamerica, while authorities thought it had been recently created.

“In early 2008 archaeologist Felipe Solis, then director of the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA), promoted the investigation of the Teotihuacan mask with the aim of clearing up any doubts”, commented Diana Magaloni, director of MNA, at the presentation of the book.

Since the piece was made in 2 different Prehispanic periods, the doubt regarding its authenticity was strong, so studies and analyses were conducted in 1921 to determine if it was original. Nevertheless, controversy did not end, explained restorer Martinez del Campo.

According to the specialist in charge of the INAH Funerary Masks Project, the team in charge of analyzing the archaeological object was amazed by the piece, its manufacture technique and the material that decorates it.

In 1921 it was determined that the mask was created with serpentine, but the results from the new mineralogical studies concluded that it is made of chloritite, a green-yellowish rock.

In the early 20th century, expert reports determined that most of the blue tesserae were confectioned with amazonite, some manufactured with turquoise, which was verified by the 2008 and 2009 lithic analyses. There are also shell and hematite elements.

“It was confirmed that copal resin was used to glue up tesserae; there was a rumor that modern glue had been used as an adhesive, but the presence of copal allowed us confirming the mask was created in Prehispanic times”, declared Martinez del Campo.

“The work is the product of an interdisciplinary investigation, gathering around the object more than 20 specialists in chemistry, mineralogy, petrography, biology, archaeology and anthropology.

“This is a mask of great quality, with different material inlay, a Teotihuacan object to which decoration was added up later, integrating the unity through time”, commented Eduardo Matos Moctezuma.
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