An old mask allegedly unearthed in Marshall County has piqued the interest of state archaeologists and the owner is looking for answers.
Approximately five years ago, longtime antique collector and researcher Frank Waite discovered a mysterious mask at Iowa River Antiques in Marshalltown.
“At first I wasn’t sure what it was,” Waite said. “I picked it up and it was really dense and heavy, like lead or something. Just really dense metal for the size of it.”
Iowa River Antiques owner Mike Awes said he does not remember who sold him the mask, but recalls the story of its recovery. A local farmer supposedly uncovered the object while plowing a field near the Iowa River. The mask remained in the farmer’s home for years until the farmer passed and the mask was sold along with his estate.
Now having the free time to research the object, Waite took the mask for a X-ray diffraction test to discover what material the mask was made from. The test revealed the mask was 99.8 percent pure copper. The tester believed the copper to be native copper, a form of historic and more valuable copper uncombined with other materials, due to the mask’s high density and appearance.
Waite is now looking for any information on who may have sold the mask to Iowa River Antiques, as discovering exactly where the artifact was discovered will aid in learning the mask’s age and origin.
State Archaeologist from University of Iowa John Doershuk said the mask is an unusual find given the context it was found in.