Conservation of Monumental Mexica Snake Sculpture Continues

Mexico Snake SculptureMEXICO CITY, MEXICO—According to a statement released by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), conservators are working to preserve a monumental stone snake head discovered last year in the heart of Mexico City at the site of the Templo Mayor, the main temple in the Mexica city of Tenochtitlan. The 500-year-old sculpture, which measures about six feet long and three feet tall, was painted with yellow, blue, red, black, and white colors made from minerals and plants employed by the Mexica on cult images and temples. This fragile coloring survives on about 80 percent of the snake-head surface. Experts led by restorer María Barajas Rocha suggest that the mud and water that covered the more than one-ton sculpture helped to preserve its painted stucco covering. They are therefore working on the sculpture in a humidity chamber. “It is a sealed space, lined with plastic films and equipped with humidifiers and data loggers to read and control, at all times, the relative humidity of this ancestral representation of the snake,” Barajas Rocha said. The team members also want to remove the moisture from the rock slowly so that it does not crack, while preventing any loss of color, or the formation of salts on the stone. To read about thousands of wooden artifacts unearthed at the Templo Mayor, go to “Aztec Offerings,” one of ARCHAEOLOGY’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2022.


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