Archaeology
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Pre-Columbian collection, Dumbarton OaksDSCF7954

The Dumbarton Oaks birthing figure

Dumbarton Oaks birthing figure or Fertility Idol is an Aztec scapolite figurine of a woman giving childbirth in a squatting position. Housed in the Dumbarton Oaks collection, United States, the figurine is considered by several scholars to be a pre-Columbian artwork, while others believe it was made in modern times, possibly in the 19th century. The figurine measures 20.2 cm in height.

Birthing figures, while common in Colonial Mexican manuscripts, are rare in Aztec three-dimensional art. Women, however, occupied a prominent position in the Aztec mythology.

In Popular Culture[]

Gold idol-screenshot

The fertility idol in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, more commonly referred to as the Golden Idol, is a fictitious artifact that appears in the opening sequence of the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first entry in the Indiana Jones franchise created by George Lucas (films directed by Steven Spielberg). The idol was erroneously attributed to the Chachapoyan tribe in Peru, South America, although the specimen from which it was modeled is carved of greenstone, attributed to the Aztec culture, and is currently on exhibit at the Dumbarton Oaks collections in Washington, D.C.

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