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Mexican Government Says $4 Million Maya Sculpture Sold in Paris is Not Pre-Hispanic
A sculpture of a Mayan warrior that sold for more than $4 million at a Paris auction house this week is a fake, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History said on Tuesday. The masked, stone figure, sold by a private collector, was billed as an impressive piece of Pre-Columbian art and was believed to be a unique work dating from around 550 to 950 A.D. It sold for 2.9 million euros ($4.1 million) on Monday.

MEXICO CITY.- In relation to the auction of archaeological pieces held in Paris, France on Monday, March 21, by the Binoche–Giquello auction house, the National Institute of Anthropology and History and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores) informed the following:

The piece attributed to the Maya culture and that, according to several news reports, achieved the highest price in the auction, was manufactured recently and in no way belongs to any of the Prehispanic Mexican cultures.

This information was determined by INAH experts, after a thorough archaeological examination that was made before the auction and that included 203 images of the 207 lots that were auctioned. INAH experts established that 140 pieces are Prehispanic and 67 others were recently made, as is the case of the figure mentioned before.

According to the report, elaborated by archaeologists Alejandro Castillo and Alejandro Bautista Valdespino, the figure, that represents a person holding an axe and shield, was elaborated by a modeling and gum-paste technique which does not present a specific cultural style according to the sculptural corpus, it is in this manner that it is a free style that does not recreate any formal characteristic and/or stylistic of the mesoamerican cultures in the Mexican territory.

The figure attempts to recreate the features of the Prehispanic representations made in the Maya zone in Southeastern Mexico, but, the height (165.5 cms) as well as the position with the legs bent and the laces that hold the shoes together are not characteristic of this culture. The apparent erosion which can be observed was made to give it a deteriorated or antique appearance. Due to this, the conclusion is that it is a recent piece.

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March 23, 2011

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