Monday, December 22, 2014

Some Thoughts From Kim

I would like to take a minute to thank you for your continued patronage of our appraisal services. I have seen some wonderful artworks this year, to include well established living artists like Jasper Johns, Julian Opie, Donald Sultan and Idelle Weber, to some perhaps less well known Texas artists like Cesar Martinez, Michael O’Keefe and Winter Rusiloski.  One of the more interesting challenges was determining the origin of a signed 1942 Dali drawing that was one of a limited edition insert in his 1942 autobiography “The Secret Life of Salvador Dali”. This pen & ink drawing was sold without specifying the details of its origin, and it was not clear whether it was one of the original drawings interspersed throughout his autobiography, part of another unknown edition, or even a very clever forgery.

 Appraising art always brings adventures, both large and small, and I feel privileged to be in this business. Every day I have the opportunity to traipse into the mind of the artist, and examine the fruit of the creative journey. For those of us who love art, it doesn’t get any better than that.

 Best wishes to you and your family for 2015,

Pre-Columbian Art

Maya polychrome Vase
AD 600 - 900
Peten, Guatemala
Ht. 6 1/2"

Foxworth Collection

Mochica Culture, Peru , 100 BC- 100 AD

Kneeling Royal Warrior Lord in Presentation.
Ex Eugene Lions Coll., Switzerland
Ht. 5 7/8"

Mochica Culture, Peru,100BC - 100 AD

Reclining Jaguar 
Private San Francisco Coll.
Length  8 1/2"

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Extinction of Neanderthals - New Data

Early Man
1.PARIS (AFP).- Neanderthals shared Europe with modern humans for as long as five millennia until they died out 40,000 years ago -- "ample time" for cultural exchanges and interbreeding, researchers said on Wednesday. While there is no evidence that the two groups lived closely together, they did co-exist for anything from 25 to 250 generations, depending on the region, according to a paper published in the journal Nature. "The results reveal a significant overlap of 2,600-5,400 years," wrote the researchers, who used improved technology to date about 200 samples of bone, charcoal and shell from 40 archaeological sites from Russia to Spain. This was "ample time for interaction and interbreeding," said a press statement.
In the latest attempt to date our cousins' final moments on Earth, the team found that Neanderthals disappeared at different times from different parts of Europe instead of being replaced by humans at one fell swoop. The question of how, why and when Neanderthals became extinct, leaving humans to take over, has long fascinated scientists. Some have postulated a much more recent disappearance. Anatomically-modern humans, having originated in Africa, reached Europe between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago, finding Neanderthals there. Their brief interaction resulted in non-African people today carrying about 1.5-2.1 percent Neanderthal DNA. According to the new, six-year study, Europe 45,000 years ago was still occupied mainly by Neanderthals with small pockets of humans in between. This balanced shifted over the following 5,000 years, until the Neanderthals eventually disappeared, the paper said. Rather than modern humans abruptly replacing their distant cousins, there appears to have been a progressive change "characterised by a biological and cultural mosaic that lasted for several thousand years," the researchers wrote. They said theirs was the most accurate dating yet of this period in history. Reliable radiocarbon dating is often rendered difficult by the degradation of carbon in bone or rock samples older than 25,000 years.
"Previous radiocarbon dates have often underestimated the age of samples from sites associated with Neanderthals because the organic matter was contaminated with modern particles," said study leader Thomas Higham of Oxford University. "We used ultrafiltration methods, which purify the extracted collagen from bone, to avoid the risk of contamination. "This means we can say with more confidence that we have finally resolved the timing of the disappearance of our close cousins, the Neanderthals." The study did not reach a conclusion on whether there had been a single human-Neanderthal interbreeding event, or several over time. "Of course the Neanderthals are not completely extinct, because some of their genes are in most of us today," said Higham.

Christmas Facts

Christmas History

"A typical Neapolitan presepe/presepio, or Nativity scene. Local crèches are renowned for their ornate decorations and symbolic figurines, often mirroring daily life.The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be "decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green".[132] The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.
Nativity scenes are known from 10th-century Rome. They were popularised by Saint Francis of Asissi from 1223, quickly spreading across Europe. Different types of decorations developed across the Christian world, dependent on local tradition and available resources, and can vary from simple representations of the crib to far more elaborate sets - renowned manger scene traditions include the colourful Kraków szopka in Poland,which imitate Kraków's historical buildings as settings, the elaborate Italian presepi (Neapolitan, Genoese and Bolognese),or the Provençal crèches in southern France, using hand-painted terracotta figurines called santons. In certain parts of the world, notably Sicily, living nativity scenes following the tradition of Saint Francis are a popular alternative to static crèches.The first commercially produced decorations appeared in Germany in the 1860s, inspired by paper chains made by children.In countries
where a representation of the Nativity scene is very popular, people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom.

The traditional colors of Christmas decorations are red, green, and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus, which was shed in his crucifixion, while green symbolizes eternal life, and in particular the evergreen tree, which does not lose its leaves in the winter, and gold is the first color associated with Christmas, as one of the three gifts of the Magi, symbolizing royalty. On Christmas Day, the Christ Candle in the center of the Advent wreath is traditionally lit in many church services. The Christmas tree is considered by some as Christianisation of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship;[146] according to eighth-century biographer Æddi Stephanus, Saint Boniface (634–709), who was a missionary in Germany, took an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Thor and pointed out a fir tree, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to heaven and it had a triangular shape, which he said was symbolic of the Trinity. The English language phrase "Christmas tree" is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century.

From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain. By the 1870s, people in the United States had adopted the custom of putting up a Christmas tree.Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.
Since the 19th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas. Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. Along with a Christmas tree, the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. The outside of houses may be decorated with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures. Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels. Both the displaying of wreaths and candles in each window are a more traditional Christmas
display. The concentric assortment of leaves, usually from an evergreen, make up Christmas wreaths and are designed to prepare Christians for the Advent season. Candles in each window are meant to demonstrate the fact that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the ultimate light of the world.

Christmas lights and banners may be hung along streets, music played from speakers, and Christmas trees placed in prominent places. It is common in many parts of the world for town squares and consumer shopping areas to sponsor and display decorations. Rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas motifs are manufactured for the purpose of wrapping gifts. In some countries, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5."

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Ugly Christmas sweaters have become big business and like much of the holiday season these symbols of bad taste have lost much of their meaning. Anyone can make an ugly sweater. The meaning of truth is found in how many people can honestly try to make a great sweater and instead create something horrific. These well meaning holiday warriors are the true heroes of Christmas. For your entertainment I have looked at may ugly sweaters that MAY fit the true meaning of Christmas. This has not been an easy task which has driven me to wine. I have ended this group with a nice snow scene to calm your sensibilities.

Christmas Around the World

Last year we shared photos of how Christmas was being  celebrated around the world. We had such a positive response,we have repeated and expanded it again this year.

Outside the White House 2014

420 Pound Ginger Bread House, White House 2014

White House 2014

Christmas London 2014

Christmas San Francisco, 2014

Christmas Alaska, 2014

Christmas, Fashion Mall, Las Vegas

Christmas, Strasbourg 2014

Christmas, Hong Kong 2014

Christmas, Graben Vienna, 2014

Christmas Paris 2014

Christmas Rockefeller Center New York

Christmas Glendale Galleria, California

Christmas, Hong Kong, A Selfie

My Word Christmas 2014

In the past month I have been in New Orleans, Tucson, Chicago, and St. Louis, so we welcome the holidays and a chance to catch a breather. 2015 looks to be even busier with continued unpredictability in the market place. In our next newsletter we shall evaluate the recent auctions in New York and Paris. Sothebys continues to do an amazing job in marketing African and Oceanic art. Many of us have mixed feelings about whether their success is a good thing or a warning sign of things to come. It certainly appears that new less knowledgeable buyers from other areas have greatly impacted rising prices, which then significantly influence future expectations of collectors, dealers, and yes even the auction houses. We can only hope that we are not watching an elaborate game of musical chairs. The Myron Kunin sale at Sothebys certainly exceeded expectations grossing  $41,617,500.

For 2015 we will certainly be covering changes from Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Government on repatriation issues. Again we strongly recommend following the newsletter available at for up to date information on many of the issues impacting the art world.

On an optimistic note if you are a passionately collector but can't afford the top of the food chain, I believe there will be great bargains available in the coming year. Many financial experts are predicting a market correction in 2015 which will undoubtedly have an adverse impact on the art market. This will create opportunities.

Unfortunately there are only a few weeks left in the runs of the Polynesian show in St. Louis and the Indian show in Kansas City. The latter will move on to the Met in the early spring but this is the last venue for Mike Gunn's show. At the very least get the catalogs for both of these which have objects that will not be in the States again for a very long time.

Remembering Old and New friends

For some time rescue dogs have been a big part of Barbara and my life.  As many of you know you do sacrifice the occasional piece of furniture or art. Somehow around the holidays it seems like a reasonable price to pay. We remember most of them here. Unfortunately, Annie and Jessie are gone but Izzy and Chakka will no doubt be around for quite some time. One of our holiday traditions is including our four-legged friends in the Christmas cards. This year we decided to pay special respects to those no longer with us.





Christmas 2014

Aurora Borealis, Alaska 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Maya vase AD 600 - 900

Maya polychrome vase with lord holding skyband staff
Ht. 6 3/4" AD 600 - 900

This is one of several Maya objects that are now in the gallery.

Evan Maurer Auction December 9th

Churinga, 19th century, Western Desert, Australia

Ica Pestle, Central Peru, AD 1200 - 1400

Mossi Stool, Burkina Faso, West Africa, Early 20th century

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

SALMON PACKER  A.D. 1000 - 1500 -L. 23 1/2"
Price on Request

Archaeological evidence suggests that Native Peoples have lived continuously along the Columbia River for some ten thousand years.  For much of that time they resided in permanent villages and made use of the tremendous resources that were available to them.  Food sources, such as elk, were plentiful and a variety of wild plants including camas, bitterroot, wild onions and huckleberries were harvested as well.  However, salmon was the primary food source as the Columbia River was one of the great salmon fisheries the world has ever known,  Early American settlers in the 19th century observed that during the height of spawning season it appeared that the salmon were so numerous that it would be possible to walk across their backs from one bank to the other and not get wet.  

The rich environment enabled the development of cultural and artistic traditions that were distinct compared to those of the Northwest Coast to the north, California to the south, the Great Basin to the southeast and the Plains to the east.  Prior to contact (roughly 1800) there was a flourishing sculptural tradition in stone, bone and wood.  In some instances, the objects were purely functional tools that were carefully finished beyond their intended purpose.  Other examples were idiosyncratic and their exact use can only be speculated.  Most of the stone sculpture was made from the basalt that is ubiquitous throughout the region.  The basalt that was used ranges from dense, dark-colored stone that can be ground to a high polish to a gray stone that is far more porous and easily worked. 

The imagery on Columbia River stone sculpture includes geometric motifs, primarily zig-zag lines, animals, such as birds and bighorn sheep, as well as anthropomorphic figures that may represent humans or ancestral figures.  Excellent examples of Columbia River stone sculpture are housed at the Portland Art Museum and includes a four and a half foot tall anthropomorphic figure that weighs nearly 600 pounds.  It is the largest free-standing stone sculpture from the pre-contact period known in Native North America.  A significant portion of Columbia River stone sculptures have traces of paint; usually red, green, yellow, black or white. 

While some stone sculptures exhibit clear evidence of use, others have no visible signs of wear which adds to the idiosyncratic nature of these pieces.  Unfortunately, none were recovered in controlled archaeological excavations so there is no reliable data.  It also makes it impossible to date these items with any certainty.  The generally accepted range of dates for these is 1000-1500 A.D. although some scholars simply refer to them as “Pre-Contact”.

This particular type of object is what it described as a salmon packer.  Relatively rare, there are approximately 25 extant examples.   Roughly akin to a pestle, they range from about 15” to more than 25”.  They are believed to have been used to pound dried salmon into the cylinder baskets that were traditionally used for storage.  Salmon packers are rather long and relatively heavy, therefore it is thought that a woman would simply lift it above the basket containing the dried salmon and then let it fall through her hands in order to pack the pieces tightly.  It is also possible that large salmon packers with figurative elements may not have been used as functional objects.  Instead, they may have been symbolic representations of functional examples and played a role at the annual First Foods ceremonies that are still celebrated by the Columbia River tribes as thanks for the renewed cycle of life and the nourishment that comes from the fish, game and plant foods available in the local environment.   

A few rare examples of salmon packers and other stone objects were carved with images at the end of the handle.  Often the image is that of an animal-like head with ears, a snout with slightly open mouth and sometimes nostrils and eyes.  There is no obvious identification of this creature although it recurs fairly often on both salmon packers as well as on monolithic stone axes commonly referred to as “slave killers”.

This specific salmon packer is an excellent example of its type and exhibits many of the classic characteristics of these unique objects.  The stone is a light gray basalt that has a smooth but  dimpled surface due to the porosity of the stone.  The shaft is wider at the center, with tapering ends and the sides are squared rather than rounded.  The squared edges are not uncommon and is another characteristic of objects made from porous basalt.  Under close examination the salmon packer has no traces of paint on the surface.  It shows no evidence of wear as is the case with some other examples.  It has an overall graceful shape that is well-balanced, nicely proportioned, and fits well in the hand which are all typical characteristics.  The carved figure is also very typical of the “eared creatures” as described above.            

In summary, it is my opinion that this salmon packer is an outstanding example of Columbia River stone sculpture. Bill Mercer November 2014

Teotihuacan - Recent Archaeological Discoveries

"Around 600 CE Teotihuacan in modern central Mexico was probably the sixth largest city in the world. (Rene Millon in Kathleen Berrin and Esther Pasztory, Teotihuacan. Art from the City of the Gods. All references are from articles in this source.) It was also one of the most rigorously regular in its central several square miles, laid out in a grid pattern bisected by the great north-south "Street of the Dead," with an important east-west axial avenue as well. A continuing fascinating frustration is the lack of several basic keys to the socio-cultural factors that produced the great metropolis. What was the nature of its rulership, and what ethnic sources provided that rulership? What language was spoken by that group? While much more has been learned in recent years about interactions between Teotihuacan and often distant power centers (the Zapotec of Monte Alban in modern Oaxaca; the Maya of the Escuintla area of the Pacific coast of modern Guatemala and far inland in the area of the great site of Tikal), much still needs determining regarding length through time of such influence and extent of actual presence of members of Teotihuacan's rulership structure. Then there is the great final question: what caused the intentional violent destruction of power centers and burning of central parts of the city?

The recent archaeological accounts below report on current efforts, several of them long-term, ongoing projects, to probe more and more deeply beneath the surface for possible answers to some of the above questions. A great barrier still remains in the mysterious absence of any developed system of written language paralleling the advanced hieroglyphic writing system of the Maya and nascent ones in Oaxaca and the Gulf coastal areas." John Lunsford ( see background at the end of this article)

1. April 11, 2011 - BARCELONA.- Teotihuacan, City of the Gods, the most complete exhibition ever devoted to Teotihuacan culture recently opened at Caixaforum Barcelona.
The objective behind the exhibitions that “la Caixa” Foundation has devoted in recent years to the great cultures of the past is to illustrate how men and women in different places and times  have attempted to
answer the great universal questions, and to increase our understanding of the world by showcasing the most recent historic and archaeological research.
To this end, such exhibitions as those devoted to the Steppe Route, Afghanistan, Nubia, the Persian Empire and treasures from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have all served to underline the  links between the ancient and modern worlds, and to present culture as a means of understanding and communication between peoples.
This is not the first time that an exhibition at ”la Caixa” Foundation has focused on ancient Mexican cultures; having previously showcased Life and Death. Funeral Art in Western Mexico, then,  ”la Caixa” Foundation now presents Teotihuacan, City of the Gods.
Jointly organised with the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History, Teotihuacan, City of the Gods commemorates a century of archaeological excavations in that pre-Hispanic  city. The most important exhibition ever devoted to Teotihuacan culture, the show is presented at CaixaForum as part of an international itinerary that has taken it to Mexico (Monterrey and Mexico DF) and several European cities, including Paris, Zurich,  Berlin and Rome. Already, more than 350,000 people have taken the chance to admire the many outstanding works the show features. “The Place of the Gods” The city of Teotihuacan, located 45 kilometres from Mexico City, is one of the archaeological wonders of the world and was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. The principal  monuments in the city —the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, which are connected by the Avenue of the Dead, the beautiful Palace of the Jaguars and the Temple of  Quetzalcóalt— are references in universal culture.. More... #.VFQdMf50zVk

2. April 26, 2013 - MEXICO CITY (AFP).- A small robot has discovered three possible burial chambers under a temple in Mexico's pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan, a find that may reveal secrets  about funeral rituals in the ancient site.
The robot, dubbed Tlaloc II-TC, located the chambers in the last section of a 2,000-year-old tunnel tucked under the Temple of the Feathered Snake, surprising archeologists who had expected  to find just one room.
The National Anthropology and History Institute said the find could shed light on the burial rituals of the rulers of Teotihuacan, which is some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Mexico City.
The mystery-filled ancient city is known for its majestic pyramids of the sun and the moon, but little is known about the people who inhabited the site. Teotihuacan, whose name means "City of  Gods," had long been abandoned when Aztecs arrived in the area in the 1300s.
The tunnel under the Temple of Quetzacoatl, or Feathered Snake, was discovered after heavy rain uncovered a hole in the ground in 2003.
Tlaloc II-TC, named after the Aztec god of rain, was made to navigate rough terrain and is equipped with an infrared camera and a scanner that generates detailed maps.
The next step in the research will be to remove rubble blocking the last 30 meters (98 feet) of the 120-meter (394-foot) long tunnel, the anthropology institute said. Archeologists believe the  obstruction hides a staircase that goes down three to four meters deeper below ground....

3.  June 3, 2013 - MEXICO CITY.- The National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH) is promoting the Mural Painting Conservation Project in Teotihuacan. This project is taking place in  situ and in archives, indeed a tremendous labor, as Ph.D. Maria Teresa Uriarte affirms, “it’s not wild to state that this ancient city was one of the most decorated (with murals and paintings) of  the ancient world.”
“We know that the building were completely polychrome, and many of its floors also have remains, since floors were painted as well” signaled the specialist in Teotihuacan culture and pre  Hispanic mural paintings. Therefore the transcendence of the initiative by INAH which is being lead by restorer Gloria Torres
Rodriguez and archaeologist Claudia Lopez Perez of INAH.
With the purpose of the project being the detection of the murals’ theme, many of its resources are being transferred to the registry of the murals. This registry is also including the murals’  remains in situ (monochrome and polychrome), mural fragments and those found in archaeological excavations, and those that fell and were mounted on synthetic supports. These works of art  where made between the years 200 and 700 AD.
The elaboration of a glossary is also part of the project, as well as a file with a general diagnosis by area, in conformity to what was established in the Management Plan of the pre Hispanic site.
In this sense, one of the fundamental contributions, informed archaeologists Claudia Lopez, is the enquiry that investigators can make of the database, “we will provide elements with which  they can interpret the murals through the iconography. The designs, shapes and styles will be referenced through the glossary”. ...More.. Institute-of-Archaeology-and-History-announces-Mural-Painting-Conservation-Project#.VFQae_50zVk

4. October 30, 2014 -  MEXICO CITY.- With the announcement that the most recent explorations of the Tlalocan Project have led to the discovery of the threshold of three chambers located  under the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan, Teresa Franco, director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), expressed that this and other investigations  under development by the institution create the unique opportunity to understand in depth the cultures in Mesoamerica and Aridoamerica.
The Tlalocan Project: A Path Under the Earth and the incentives of other spaces and structures in Teotihuacan have become the evidence of systematic studies that have been made in these  archaeological zones, enabling researchers to analyze data, revise hypothesis and even calculate the chronology of a metropolis that was developed during eight centuries.
Teresa Franco added that these labors have been multidisciplinary, which has allowed the use of advanced technology, such as the georadar, the laser scanner and a couple of robots developed  by graduates from the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico. The information derived from the use of these tools has aided investigators to excavate all the way to the last part of a tunnel,  which was closed off 800 thousand years ago by the people in Teotihuacan.
It was before the media that the recently discovered threshold that held the varied offerings was announced, this being the richest one found up to date and which stands guard to three  chambers....More...

5.  March 7, 2011 - MEXICO CITY.- A monolith that represents a yet unknown deity that during the first 2 centuries of our era was part of the Sun Pyramid, in the Prehispanic city of  Teotihuacan, will be exhibited for the first time in Six Ancient Cities of Mesoamerica. Society and Environment to be opened at the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA) in Mexico City.
Jointly with this piece, discovered in 2007, will be presented the most complete sculpture found until now of Huehueteotl, deity of fire, informed archaeologist Alejandro Sarabia, curator of  the hall dedicated to Teotihuacan at the great exhibition that will gather more than 400 Prehispanic pieces representing the development of this ancient city, as well as Monte Alban, El Tajin,  Palenque, Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco.
Teotihuacan pieces recently found were discovered during different explorations at the Moon Pyramid and archaeological salvages at the town of San Juan Teotihuacan, in Estado de Mexico.
The director of the archaeological site remarked that the monolith made out of gray andesite “is unique because it depicts a yet unidentified deity in Teotihuacan iconography. It conserves  stucco and pigments, mainly red, representing an odd case regarding other carved stone in the site”.
Sarabia declared that this sculpture was located in December 2007 in a platform that surrounds the southwestern corner of the Sun Pyramid; after its discovery, it underwent a long  conservation process (at the restoration area of the archaeological site), with the aim of fixing the pigments.
“The monolith is 98 centimeters high, 106 wide and 93 deep; it dates from an early stage in the history of Teotihuacan, between centuries 1 and 2 of the Common Era; it must have been used as  an architectural element of the Sun Pyramid, and then it was dismantled with more sculptures, to be part of the offering at another building attached to it.
Archaeologist Sergio Gomez Chavez did a brief recount of all the labors that began 11 years ago with a fortuitous event, when one October morning the intense rain had left open an 83  centimeter [32.67 inch] cavity in front of the Citadel’s Duplex Building. ... More ... Time#.VFQckv50zVk

6. February 14, 2013 - MEXICO CITY.- Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH - Conaculta) found, at the peak of Pyramid of the Sun, the biggest  Huehueteotl (Old God or God of Fire) sculpture in Teotihuacan, Estado de Mexico; they also found two complete green stone stelae and a fragment of another one, which must have decorated  the temple that crowned this construction 1,500 years ago.
Archaeologist Alejandro Sarabia whom, together with his colleague, PhD Saburo Sagiyuma from the Provincial University of Aichi (Japan), has been developing since 2005 the Pyramid of the  Sun Project, informed that the pieces where found inside a well that possibly dates back to the end of the V century or the beginning of the VI century of our era.
The temple, which existed at the peak of the pyramid, was destroyed by Teotihuacan’s people during this period, but some architectonic elements –much like the stelae– where left in place.  Sarabia and his team consider that the well was excavated in pre Hispanic times in order to recover the main offering of the construction. This was an act that demystified the construction;  also, ancient Teotihuacans spread the main offering in other public buildings of the ancient city.
Archaeologist Nelly Zoe Nuñez Rendon, another investigator of the Pyramid of the Sun Project, who is responsible for the excavations at the top of the construction, said that the excavations’  initial objective was to locate the last movement of the bodies.....More.. of-the-Sun#.VFQYnf50zVk

7. MEXICO CITY - In pictures: Relics discovered in Mexico's TeotihuacanSome 50,000 relics have been discovered in Mexico in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexican archaeologists say.
The city, located about 50 km (30 miles) northeast of Mexico City, dominated central Mexico in pre-Columbian times.

8. MEXICO CITY.- July 26, 2009 - Sun Pyramid was the axis mundi for Teotihuacan culture, a space from which celestial and underworld levels were accessed symbolically. The four directions of the universe parted from here as well, and this scheme was adopted later by Tolteca and Mexica societies when drafting their ceremonial centers.
The later was informed by archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma during his participation at “Teotihuacan, identity and heritage of Mexico” master conference series, taking place in the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA) as part of the 70th anniversary of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) celebrations.
For the INAH emeritus professor that collaborated with the Teotihuacan Project (1962-1964) and directed a special archaeological initiative there in the early 1990’s, there are several elements that confirm the sacredness of the Sun Pyramid.
“These axis mundi buildings face east, present evidence of human sacrifices, are related to water and fertility, are linked to death-life duality, and are surrounded by great platforms that prevent direct entrance to them”.
During the archaeological explorations where he participated, it was confirmed that access was restricted: the only entrance was through the Dead Roadway and the frontal staircase, which points out to its sacredness.
“We think the Sun Pyramid was the first center of Teotihuacan city. Towards 250 AD, it would be moved to the south, at La Ciudadela and the Feathered Serpent Temple, where the axis mundi patron repeated” declared the Colegio Nacional Member. .... more...

9.  MEXICO CITY.- April 1, 2010 - Iconographic studies of Teotihuacan murals confirm the extension of the lineage of a ruler of the ancient city of Tikal, Guatemala, already revealed by epigraphists of the Maya area.
The aforementioned investigation sums up to interpretations of Stele 31 of Tikal that relate to the dynastic line of Atlatl-Cauac (“Dart-thrower Owl”), possible ruler of Teotihuacan between 374 and 439 AD, and whose son, Yax Nuun Ayiin I, was seignior of Tikal. The emblem of this lineage would be represented by the image of a bird with a shield, observed in Teotihuacan murals, declared Dr. Raul Garcia Chavez, researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
There would be a relation between the register at Tikal and other Maya sites of late 4th century, which refers to the son of Atlatl-Cauac, Yax Nuun Ayiin I, as ruler of Tikal between 379 and 404 AD, commented the researcher during his participation at the 6th Academic Conference of Archaeology at Templo Mayor Museum.
The archaeologist from Estado de Mexico INAH Center, remarked that a series of enthroned figures with eye rings and headdress began appearing at iconographic register of Teotihuacan from 370 of the Common Era, possibly symbolizing the supreme ruler of the Central High Plateau city.
Iconography apparently indicates that the Teotihuacan ruler “was part of a clan whose emblem was an owl with a shield crossed by a hand taking up a dart or the dart-thrower. Sometimes it was represented with a cotton tassel headdress and the eye rings; others, without eye rings but enthroned”, explained the specialist.
“Evidence (at Teotihuacan) is fragmented. Some representations at the murals, among them a green-feathered bird with a dart-thrower (atlatl) and a shield, could refer to this character “Dart-thrower Owl” or maybe to his representation as a mythic element”.
“This representation has been found in many examples of Teotihuacan mural painting. Nevertheless, most paintings are fragmented so iconographic discourse is incomprehensible”. ... more..

10. MEXICO CITY. - October 6, 2010 - Although research conducted at Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone has allowed determining several of its urban features, the construction of its most emblematic monument, the Sun Pyramid, still presents enigmas, like the real significance it had for dwellers, since no historical sources exist.
M.A. Ruben Cabrera Castro, researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), tried to elucidate the sense this 65-meter building had for ancient Teotihuacan dwellers. Although information has been provided by material rests found, it is difficult to be certain about Prehispanic thought.
At the conference series at the Center of Teotihuacan Studies, part of commemorations of the centennial of the opening of the archaeological site, Cabrera recalled that recently archaeologist Jaime Delgado conducted a survey among dwellers of the Valley of Teotihuacan and urban communities near Mexico City, workers and specialists at the archaeological site: What does the Sun Pyramid Means to You?
General population manifested that it is the most important building of Teotihuacan, a monument dedicated to the Sun, a center of energy, the main attraction of Teotihuacan, something majestic, a manifestation of despotic power, a ceremonial center, a tomb, a national symbol, an enigma…for archaeologists it is the central nucleus of Teotihuacan urban system too.
Still, its original meaning is a mystery, “mainly because in Teotihuacan we don’t have well-analyzed writing; glyphs were recently found at La Ventilla neighborhood, but they are being analyzed”, mentioned Ruben Cabrera.
According to the archaeologist, “this building is for many researchers a “water mountain” or altepetl: it is known that pyramids are replicas of hills, which were conceived as water providers.
“This allows us thinking that the Sun Pyramid is related to strength, fertility, water and the underworld, from where life comes from and where humans go after death, and maybe important characters, from the point of view of Teotihuacan people”. .. more..

11. MEXICO CITY.  August 5, 2009  - More than 300 greenstone tiles found inside the Moon Pyramid originated a human sculpture that gives testimony of the esthetic cannons of the ancient Teotihuacan culture. The effigy is one of the emblematic pieces of the exhibition “Teotihuacan. Ciudad de los Dioses” (Teotihuacan, City of Gods), open until late August in the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA).
Fragments were found in 2004 by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) associated to the Burial 6 of the pyramid. Specialist though the pieces were part of a mask.
Dated near 300 AD and made out of serpentine, reconstruction of the “Anthropomorphic Figure” was an arduous work directed by restorer Laura Filloy Nadal, from the MNA Conservation Laboratory.
The figure also has fragments of calcite, dolomite, jade and obsidian that form eyes, lips, and jewelry such as earpieces and necklace.
Restoration of the representation of a high rank character or warrior began with photographic register in situ of the pieces in order to specify the place of each piece. Fragments have different sizes, from a millimeter to 3 centimeters that formed a torso, arms and a pair of earpieces. Carbonized fragments that might have been
a support were also found.
“Tiles corresponded to the frontal part of a sculpture” specified Filloy, adding that tiles’ morphology varied from fragments of curved to straight cuts, with convex, concave or flat surfaces. Edges were cut on the bias to be assembled.
Using 3 dimensional images, an preliminary effigy was modeled that later was made out with plasticine; this allowed to determine the place of each piece.
A 31 centimeters high full-body human figure resulted, and then a rigid resin cast was created to glue on each fragment with a transparent adhesive.
The final touch consisted in the general polish of the sculpture, mentioned Laura Filloy, after declaring that aluminum tubes were installed inside the structure to give it stability. .. more ...

John Lunsford
Independent Art Historian

Biographical Data


Harvard College, Cambridge, MA, AB cum laude (English literature), 1954;
Columbia University, New York, Graduate School of Art History and Archaeology M.A., 1968

Professional Experience

*1958 to 1986 - Dallas Museum of Art: from Assistant Curator to Senior Curator. Primary areas of responsibility were Pre-Columbian, African, Oceanic, Island Indonesian, and Native American art. Pre-Columbian collections grew from about fifty pieces to well over three thousand while the African collection grew from zero to over four hundred. Both collections are considered to be of national importance.
*1968 to 1996 - Adjunct Associate Professor in Art History, Southern Methodist University
*1987 - Duke University Museum of Art. Assessment of the Pre-Columbian Collection
*1996 to 2001 - Director of the Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University. During this tenure the new building was completed and opened with a new installation of the collection.
*2006 to 2007 - Heritage Auction House – consultant for the sale of African, Pre-Columbian, Oceanic, and American Native arts.


The Arts of Man, 1962, Dallas Museum of Art
Indian Arts of the Americas, 1963, Dallas Museum of Art
The Clark and Frances Stillman Collection of Congo Sculpture, Dallas, 1969, Dallas Museum of Art
The M.P. Potamkin Collection, Dallas, 1970, Dallas Museum of Arts
Arts of Oceania, Dallas, 1970, Dallas Museum of Art
The Romantic Vision in America, Dallas, 1971, Dallas Museum of Art
African Art from Dallas Collections, Dallas, 1972
The Schindler Collection of African Sculpture, Dallas, 1975, Dallas Museum of Art
“Preclassic and Protoclasic Sources for a Classic Veracruz Bowl” in Precolumbian Art in Southern Collections, Huntsville Museum of Art (Alabama) 1979
“Trophy-Head Effigies from Costa Rica”, in Before Columbus, Ancient Arts of Central and South America, Amarillo Art Center, 1980
“Seeing African Sculpture” in African Art from the Permanent Collection of Loch Haven Art Center, Loch Haven, Florida: Loch Haven Art Center, 1984
“Form and Technique in Pre-Columbian Metalwork: A Comparison Between Calima and Sican Approaches” in Metalurgia de America Precolumbina/Precolumbian American Metallurgy (45th International Congress of Americanists) Bogota: Banco de la Republica, 1986
“Exhibition Review: The Blood of Kings. Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art,” African Arts, vol xx, no 1. November 1986.
Contributing author: In Pursuit of Quality. An Illustrated History of the Art and Architecture, The Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth), 1987


“Non-Western Art Traditions: A Survey”
“Traditional Art of Africa
“Art of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica
“Art and Architecture of the Ancient Maya”
“American Indian and Eskimo Art”
“Survey of Non-Western Art”
“The Art of India
“Pre-Columbian Art of Central and South America
“Art of Oceania

Private Consulting

1987 to Present – Provided expertise in authentication and connoisseurship of African, Pre-Columbian, American Indian, and Oceanic art to private and institutional clients. List provided on request and as permitted by the client.

Conferences and Seminars

1976 to Present - Maya Meetings at Texas, University of Texas, Austin (20 conferences)
1977 - UCLA Arts of Ghana Symposium, Los Angeles, California
1982 - West African Art Symposium, The Spirit of African Art in the South, Memphis State University
1985 - “Behind the Mask” (Keynote address), Idaho Art Association Annual Meeting, Sun Valley, Idaho
1985 - Presenter, 45th International Congress of Americanists, Bogota, Colombia
2001 - Seminar, Copan Ruinas, Honduras
2002 - Palenque Roundtable, Palenque, Mexico

John Lunsford
Dallas, Texas 
November 16, 2014