Stone Effigy

    In 1912, Nels Nelson assigned several men to excavate San Lazaro under his supervision. They eventually uncovered and reported on about sixty rooms. A survey of the recovered artifacts and related data, now held and mostly hidden In the American Museum of Natural History In New York, reveals that the work must have been both arduous and generally unrewarding. Then one day a worker discovered something very important. On the east wall of Room 1 in Building VI, a stone figure was uncovered. The only record of the event other than a casual mention in the field notes, is a photograph taken at the time of the discovery that reveals a human effigy that had been carefully pecked and ground out of a beige, grainy stone. Its eyes, nose, mouth, and, hands, are in relief. Even the fingers are articulated. The sculptor may have been spiritually motivated, judging by the quality of his art and the amount of time that must have been allocated to the job. Reddish-brown pigment covers the entire figure,  both front and back, except for the middle third of the face. The top of the head comes to a rounded point, where someone placed the number 1289. Somehow that seems out of place to us, even irreverent. The photograph and Nelson’s field notes also tell something about like in the pueblo. In the same room with the effigy his men discovered eleven metates, twenty-four mullers (manos), two cooking “slabs,”  a bird bone flute, ten bone tools, and other assorted objects.

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