Lead and Zinc Pigmented Mural Paints: Lowry Pueblo Great House, Southwest Colorado


We used numerous techniques to study the white step pattern murals of Lowry Pueblo Kivas A and B: visual analysis, portable X-ray fluorescence, scanning electron microscopy with an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer, and powder X-ray diffraction. Elemental analyses identified lead and zinc in the shiny bright white paint layer and calcium in the dull white paint layer. X-ray diffraction confirmed zinc oxide and lead sulfate pigment minerals in the shiny, bright white paint layer, whereas calcium carbonate was identified as the pigment for the dull white paint layers. Radiocarbon dating places mural production at 1020-1185 cal AD, consistent with occupation at Lowry Pueblo Great House. Because this underlying shiny, white paint layer is from an earlier painting event than the dull white, the lead paint layer could not be due to a modern addition. Selection of this lead and zinc pigment by kiva decorators produced a desirable paint finish; however, lead ore processing and paint manufacture likely had negative health implications.

Cite this Record

Lead and Zinc Pigmented Mural Paints: Lowry Pueblo Great House, Southwest Colorado. Marie Desrochers, Marvin Rowe, Sally Cole, Karen Steelman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431424)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14922