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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Heizer, Strandt, and the Effigy Controversy


Circumstantial evidence indicates that a number of southern California steatite effigies and effigy pipes of unusual composition (e.g., Burnett 1944) are probably forgeries, being either fantasy pieces or good pieces creatively altered for sale to antiquities dealers, collectors, and museums. A recent article by Georgia Lee (1993) focused on Robert Heizer's attempt to ferret out the hoaxers, and included correspondence among several scholars. Also reproduced were letters written by Herman F. Strandt, one of the three alleged culprits in this archaeological whodunit. The three, Strandt, Arthur R. Sanger, and O. T. Littleton, had all collected from sites and dealt commercially in artifacts. Whether Strandt, Sanger, and Littleton, either individually or as conspirators, faked prehistoric effigies is a question left unresolved by Lee (1993).

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