Due to a paucity of original written information, we base our knowledge of the pre-Columbian civilizations of Latin America on archaeological and archaeometric analysis. Particularly, the analytical study of funerary materials collected by conquerors in historical times and archaeologists nowadays during their travels and expeditions contributes to a better understanding of religious practices and social organisation. In the present study, a multi-analytical approach is presented which was used for the characterisation of red and blue organic dyes, inorganic pigments and embalming materials in various archaeological finds from the necropolis of Anco`n (Peru). These included the funerary clothes belonging to a set of three mummies, dated between the 11th and the 13th century AD. Chromatographic and spectrometric techniques were used: high performance liquid chromatography with UV-Visible detector (HPLC-UV-Vis) for identifying organic dyes, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (SEM-EDX) for recognising pigments, and gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (GC/MS) for analysing organic embalming materials. This multi-analytical approach enabled us to characterise a range of materials. The presence of red anthraquinoid dyes and blue indigoid ones was assessed, although it was not always possible to identify the original source with certainty. Cinnabar was identified as the colouring material applied to one mummy’s hair. The molecular markers of conifer resin were detected in the bandages. The analytical results highlighted the use of a number of hitherto unknown dyes and embalming materials in Peruvian funerary rituals.

MULTI-ANALYTICAL TECHNIQUES FOR THE STUDY OF PRE-COLUMBIAN MUMMIES AND RELATED FUNERARY MATERIALS

DEGANO, ILARIA;COLOMBINI, MARIA PERLA
2009

Abstract

Due to a paucity of original written information, we base our knowledge of the pre-Columbian civilizations of Latin America on archaeological and archaeometric analysis. Particularly, the analytical study of funerary materials collected by conquerors in historical times and archaeologists nowadays during their travels and expeditions contributes to a better understanding of religious practices and social organisation. In the present study, a multi-analytical approach is presented which was used for the characterisation of red and blue organic dyes, inorganic pigments and embalming materials in various archaeological finds from the necropolis of Anco`n (Peru). These included the funerary clothes belonging to a set of three mummies, dated between the 11th and the 13th century AD. Chromatographic and spectrometric techniques were used: high performance liquid chromatography with UV-Visible detector (HPLC-UV-Vis) for identifying organic dyes, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (SEM-EDX) for recognising pigments, and gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (GC/MS) for analysing organic embalming materials. This multi-analytical approach enabled us to characterise a range of materials. The presence of red anthraquinoid dyes and blue indigoid ones was assessed, although it was not always possible to identify the original source with certainty. Cinnabar was identified as the colouring material applied to one mummy’s hair. The molecular markers of conifer resin were detected in the bandages. The analytical results highlighted the use of a number of hitherto unknown dyes and embalming materials in Peruvian funerary rituals.
Degano, Ilaria; Colombini, MARIA PERLA
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/193745
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