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No. 96: Nov-Dec 1994

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That little "roman" head from precolumbian mexico

The miniature clay head illustrated below was discovered in 1933 in a burial offering in the archeological zone of Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaja, Mexico. The burial has been dated as from the 12th-13th centuries AD. The features of this little head can hardly be described as typical of Precolumbian Mexicans. In fact, it is often termed a "Roman" head. But is it really? And how did it get into a Pre-columbian burial site?

Theory #1. Some Mexican archeologists insist it is a post-Columbian artifact that somehow "filtered" down into a Pre-columbian site. Given that the head was retrieved from beneath three floors of stone and Indian cement, this theory seems questionable.

Theory #2. The head is truly of Roman origin and was transported to Precolum-bian Mexico from Southeast Asia by Chinese or Hindu voyagers.

Theory 3. The author of the present article, R.H. Hristov, favors a Viking origin. The cap on the head and even the physiognomy have Norse overtones. The chronology is right, too, for the Vikings were exploring North America's east coast in the 11th century. Did they venture as far south as Mexico? Hristov points out:

"It is well known that in this area very significant political-cultural perturbations occurred among the autochthonous civilizations between the 10th and 13th centuries AD. These were produced by a small group of white immigrants with beards who came from the Atlantic Ocean."

(Hristov, Romeo H.; "The Little 'Roman' Head of Calixtlahuaja, Mexico: Some Reflections," NEARA Journal, 28:68, 1994. NEARA = New England Antiquities Research Association.)

From Science Frontiers #96, NOV-DEC 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987