Mummified African Pygmies?  In Holbrook?

 

Living in this region of Arizona it is not uncommon to come across artifacts from the area’s ancient civilizations on the desert landscape such as pottery shards, arrow points and grinding stones. But a discovery several weeks ago of what appeared to be mummified African pygmies at the end of a rural street in Holbrook was something altogether new and remains somewhat of a mystery.

 

It began when a local resident went for a walk along Apache Drive and made the rather bizarre discovery, one that prompted him to contact the Holbrook Police Department. Sgt. Matt Molique responded to the call and was just as puzzled at the man’s findings of four small wooden crates that appeared to have been discarded along with some other items at the end of the street.

 

The crates appeared old and stuffed with pieces of old newsprint. Nestled in each one were four of what appeared to be mummified creatures labeled on the box as “pygmies.” Each creature measured approximately 2’ tall and had what appeared to be a grayish brown, tissue-thin skin covering a skeletal form with tufts of hair and pointed teeth. One had a demonic look with what appeared to be animal hooves attached as feet and horns.

 

The crates were taken to the police department, but the discomfort caused by having the disturbing creatures in the building resulted in their placement in a container outside the facility until an investigation of how they came to be lying in a residential street could be completed.

 

Sgts. Molique and David Hall began their investigation by trying to determine who may have dumped the crates where they were discovered. No one seemed to have any answers and the mystery grew, along with the eerie uncertainty of what the purpose and meaning behind the strange figures could be.

 

Realizing that the creatures were very old (one of the newspapers used as packaging had a date of the late 1940s) and that they were definitely man-made due to the exposure of underlying papier mâché, the two officers began contacting universities and historical institutions hoping for an identification, idea or any lead at all that would solve the mystery.

 

One of their contacts was Susan Haskell, a curatorial associate with Harvard’s Peabody Museum. In response to their query she wrote, “Your dolls are extraordinary, both because they are so unusual and because we have one also… No one has been able to figure out what it is.”

 

One of their contacts was Susan Haskell, a curatorial associate with Harvard’s Peabody Museum. In re-sponse to their query she wrote, “Your dolls are extraordinary, both because they are so unusual and because we have one also… No one has been able to figure out what it is.”

 

After further research the answer finally came from Joe Meehan, curator of the Arizona Historical Society-Pioneer Museum in Flagstaff. He responded that the dolls were in fact creations of the late Homer Tate, who made a variety of “artifacts,” including mummies, mummies of mermaids, shrunken heads, which were apparently popular rear view mirror ornaments in the 1950s and ‘60s, and other “freaks of nature.”

    The rest of the story - AZ Journal 4-11-2012


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