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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