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Inca Statuettes

By: Tom Goldberg/History Teacher

Students in U.S. History I learned about the cultures of the Maya, Aztec, and Inca civilizations that dominated Mesoamerica at various times between A.D. 400 and 1530.  Many artifacts were found from all of these civilizations, but we paid special attention to the gold and silver statuettes found made by the Incas.  These statuettes were meant to honor Inca priests and the great llama god Urcuchillay.   Mr. Hayden, the art teacher, showed the class an easy way to replicate these statuettes.  For the llamas, students used tinfoil to acquire the basic shape of the animal.  Next, they coiled steel wire around the tinfoil to add stability, reinforce the shape, and to provide a surface that clay would be able to stick to easily.  Once students molded a layer of clay around their statuette, they painted it gold and then sprayed it with gold spray paint to give it some extra shine.  For the Inca priests, students molded tinfoil into the shape of a head and then added a layer of clay surrounding the tinfoil.  For these statuettes, students had to carve details into the face, as the faces of the Inca priests that were uncovered had very detailed facial features.  The head was then glued to a styrofoam cone and then wrapped in student-made Inca-style robes and headdresses.  Staff and students had a great time getting hands-on with history!