The Chupícuaro archaeological culture of highland Mexico takes its name from a large late first-millennium BC settlement on the Lema River in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Dam construction along the river flooded the site in 1946–47, which was approximately the time that William L. Hassett acquired this figurine during travels in Mexcio. Standing approximately 30 cm (12 inches) tall, the molded earthenware female figure is ornamented with red slip and geometric designs in cream and black, perhaps representing body paint. Chupícuaro ceramics were traded widely throughout highland Mexico in the late first millennium BC. Figurines like this one were found in burials at the site of Chupícuaro and may have been burial offerings for high-ranking women. After the figurine’s authenticity was ascertained, Hassett’s former law partner and U-M alumnus Robert Sandblom donated it and several others to the Museum in 1976.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.