Colossal Head 4


This is a replica of a 6-ton basalt portrait of a ruler from the Olmec culture of 1200 – 900 B.C.E. The original (one of 17 known) was excavated in 1946 by Smithsonian archaeologist Matthew Stirling and is on display in the Museum of Anthropology in Xalapa in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. The Olmec created these sculptures without iron tools.

This replica, which stands outside the Museum of Natural History on Constitution Avenue, was carved from welded volcanic ash by Ignacio Pérez Solano and presented to the Smithsonian Institution by the state of Veracruz in 2001.

8 Responses to Colossal Head 4

  1. mariemcc says:

    Fascinating sculpture. What a great idea to do a replica and leave the original where it came from. Now the people of both countries can enjoy it.

  2. Elisabeth says:

    What’s my problem that I have never even noticed those things in D.C.? I really need to go back soon!

  3. Dan Ward says:

    And people say I have a large head! 🙂

  4. Kate says:

    Whenever I see a disembodied head I think of the poem, “Ozymandias”–great photo.

  5. passante says:

    MarieMcC — I completely agree with you. The British, my lot, plundered horrifyingly to the benefit of the British Museum, etc.

    Elisabeth — Don’t feel bad. This one is certainly recent and triceratops is too, I think. I certainly hadn’t taken them in until fairly recently.

    Dan — If anyone deserves a big head, you do. (To everyone else: Dan is a frequent , stellar, super-smart, and very funny contributing author to the magazine I manage.)

    Kate — Wow, thanks for reminding me of a Shelley poem I’d totally forgotten.

  6. John says:

    mmmm I wonder what he’s thinking!?

  7. Anne says:

    Very interesting shot! Though a bit creepy too 😉

  8. Thien says:

    A bit creepy but also intriguing. Makes you want to keep looking…

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