Replica Olmec Head of ‘The King’ Moves to Lehman

June 5, 2013 1:44 pm CUNY Mexican Studies Institute

"The King" is a gift from Mexico to celebrate the first anniversary of the CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies, which is housed at the College.

“The King” has arrived.

The College recently became the proud recipient of the only “official” replica of an Olmec Head in the United States. The statue—a replica of “The King,” the first such sculpture to be unearthed in San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, Veracruz, Mexico, in 1964—was a gift from Mexico to celebrate the first anniversary of the CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies, which is housed at the College.

The statue, which was installed adjacent to the College’s main plaza, also represents the bond between both Mexico and New York, as well as the City University of New York. The gift was made possible thanks to the efforts of Pedro Matar, the Director of Mexico Trade, Cumbre Tajín, and the Government of the State of Veracruz, under Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa.

Olmec Heads are representative of the great pre-Mayan Olmec civilization, deemed the “mother culture” of Mesoamerica, given its achievements in science, mathematics, astronomy, architecture, and especially in sculpture. The original “King” statue has been dated to the Early Preclassic Age, roughly 1200-900 B.C.

“This great artistic treasure is a welcome addition to our College and our historic campus,” said President Ricardo R. Fernández. “We will cherish it as a symbol of the strong bond between Mexico, Lehman College and the City University of New York.”

“The installation of a replica of an Olmec Head at Lehman College is more than a recognition of the CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies’ first year and Lehman, it is a symbol of the human patrimony of the Olmec people,” said Dr. Alyisha Gálvez, the Director of the CUNY Institute for Mexican Studies. “This ancient civilization made stunning advances in mathematics, science and the arts. Their legacy is a reminder of the timeless unity of the people of the Americas and the deep friendship between the people of the United States and Mexico.”

“We are very happy that this statue will housed here at Lehman College, home to the CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies,” said Matar, “where students and scholars who are studying Mexican culture can enjoy it.”