The construction of a Sican gold ornament:a sculptural bat head
JO ANN GRIFFIN
Sican ceremonial mask with the restored bat plate
Abstract:_Amongst the nearly 1.2 tons of diverse grave goods from the Middle Sican Huaca Loro shaft tomb, excavated by the Sican Archeological Project in 1991-1992, was a singular representation of a bat head in gold with amber and turquoise eyes. A close examination reveals unique construction involving chasing; along with very experimental but successful clipping, tucking, stitching and gathering. The size and sculptural quality will show this piece is one of the most extraordinary finds in the long history of North Coast Peruvian archaeology.
Resumen: Entre las 1.2 toneladas de diversos bienes excavados por el Proyecto Arqueológico Sicán durante 1991 - 1992 en la tumba Huaca Loro, se encontró una singular representación en oro de una cabeza de murciélago con ojos de ámbar y turquesa. La observación detallada del método de manufactura, muy experimental pero exitoso, permitió saber que éste incluyó: cincelado, repujado, recorte, ensamblaje con dobleces, hilos y pestañas. Así, lograron un tamaño y calidad escultural en la pieza, que la convierten en uno de los hallazgos más extraordinarios en la larga historia de la arqueología del Norte de la Costa Peruana.
The scientific excavation of a 40 to 50 year old male member of the Sican elite, between October 1991 and March 1992 by the Sican Archeological Project at Huaca Loro, located in the Poma Reserve, yielded an astonishing 1.2 tons of grave goods. Nearly three-fourths of this total were metal objects and scrap.
In addition to a 16" x 19" ceremonial mask found on the skull of the principal burial figure, along with three pair of ear ornaments; there was an interesting array of personal objects surrounding the body of the man.
One of the most intriguing pieces was the sculptural representation of an animal, originally thought to be a peccary based on a cursory look at the nose on the piece, but, later study identified it as a bat head. The head was mounted on a rectangular plate whose surface was covered with circular bossed dangles with pierced round centers. The size was 17" (40.17 cm) wide X 6" (15.25 cm.) tall X 3-3/4" (9.55 cm.) deep. The thickness of the sheet gold in the piece was a very a consistent 0.13 mm. Neutron Activation Analysis by Dr. Adon Gordus, fixed the alloy at 53.3% Au., 35.1 % Ag., 11.8% Cu. (This is roughly the equivalent of a modem 14 kt. yellow gold aliar).