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Fabiola E. Silva – “Hechizas: A History of Looting and Ceramic Fakes in Northwest Chihuahua”

May 16 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST (Arizona)

This lecture will be presented simultaneously in person in Tucson and to you at home through Zoom. You choose the option that works for you!

If participating virtually registration is required.  Use this link:


If attending in person meet at this location:

University of Arizona Environmental Resources Bldg. # 2 Room 107
1064 E Lowell St, Tucson, AZ 85719 . No registration required.

Parking is easy!  The 6th Street Parking Garage borders ENR2 to the east and there is a surface lot across 6th Street directly south of the building.








Macario Ortiz shaping the “Hechiza”, photo by Sterling Trantham

In the early 1970’s a pottery movement, inspired by prehistoric Casas Grandes ceramic styles, emerged in Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, Mexico. This movement was led by the potter Juan Quezada and his patron Spencer MacCallum. The origin story told by MacCallum and Quezada, and re-told by many others, is one filled with inspiration and chance encounters. However, their story fails to acknowledge how looting and the creation of ceramic fakes contributed to the development of this modern pottery movement. This presentation will examine the emergence of ceramic fakes in Northwest Chihuahua, establish their defining characteristics, and explore their role in ceramic analysis. Data for this study was collected through extensive interviews with looters, collectors and elder potters from the region. In addition, a ceramic replication was conducted by elder potters Macario Ortiz and Reynaldo Quezada in order to document the process of making “hechizas” or ceramic fakes.

Fabiola E. Silva, M.A. serves as the Cultural Resource Manager (CRM) and Tribal Liaison for Fort Bliss Military Installation. She has conducted archaeological field work in southern New Mexico, west Texas, Central America, Chihuahua and Durango, Mexico. She received her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from New Mexico State University in 2008 and her Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma in 2012. Her research interests include looting and the antiquities market across the U.S./Mexico border, ceramic analysis, and ethno-history of Northern Mexico

Suggested Readings

Hills, Jim
2012  “Reconstructing a Miracle: New Perspectives on Mata Ortiz Pottery Making.” Journal of the Southwest. 54, No. 1 (Spring 2012): 81-158.

Brulotte, Ronda L.
2012   “Between Art and Artifact: Archaeological Replicas and Cultural Production in Oaxaca, Mexico.” Austin: University of Texas Press.

Kelker, Nancy L. and Karen O. Bruhns
2010    “Faking Ancient Mesoamerica” California: Left Coast Press.


May 16
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST
Event Category:


Paul Minnis