The Calixtlahuaca Head


In 1933, archaeologist José García Payón discovered a small head with “foreign” features in a burial at Calixtlahuaca, in the Toluca Valley about 60 km. west of Mexico City. The burial was under two undisturbed cemented floors that antedated the destruction of Calixtlahuaca by the Aztecs in AD 1510. Numerous cultural pieces found with the head were identified by García Payón as belonging to the Azteco-Matlatzinca period of 1476-1510. Cortez did not land at Veracruz until 1519, and did not conquer the Aztecs until 1521, so that central Mexico was still pre-Hispanic in 1510. 
In 1961, the Austrian anthropologist Robert Heine-Geldern examined the head and declared that it derived “unquestionably” from the Hellenistic-Roman school of art. He found that its “distinctive Naturalism” suggested a date “around AD 200.” Heine-Geldern was an expert on South-East Asia, but he reported in a communication quoted by García Payón (1961) that his view that…

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