Geochemical Evidence for Pigment Sources from El Purgatorio, Peru

Author(s): Jeremy Fowler; Melissa Vogel

Year: 2016


Portable X-ray fluorescence was used to analyze raw pigments as well as paints on ceramics and adobes found at El Purgatorio, the capital city of the Casma state. This analysis showed that, in addition to the common red ochre found in the area, cinnabar was also present. This mercurial compound has a distinctive fluorescence and is not common to area, supporting Casma participation in long distance exchange networks. Further analyses showed manganese present in black paints and calcium in the white paints. Manganese Dioxide has been used in black pigments for millennia. Calcium was present in all of the white paints on ceramics, supporting visual observations that the coastal polity was probably grinding marine shells into temper to make the paste and paints. Pigment and paint production has not been well-studied and this non-destructive analysis has helped to illuminate more about these processes in the Casma state.

Cite this Record

Geochemical Evidence for Pigment Sources from El Purgatorio, Peru. Jeremy Fowler, Melissa Vogel. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404504)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Peru Pigments pXRF

Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;