Microscopic and Spectrometric Techniques Applied to Identify Luxury Materials in a Fifteenth-Century Aztec Shield
This is an abstract from the "From Materials to Materiality: Analysis and Interpretation of Archaeological and Historical Artifacts Using Non-destructive and Micro/Nano-sampling Scientific Methods" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
In the collections of the world, only six aztec feathered objects exist: three shields and a headdress in Europe, and two shields in Mexico. Mexico’s National Museum of History conserves one shield, made of mammal hide, feathers, plant fiber cords, and a structure of matting. Various Optical Microscopy (OM) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) techniques were used to analyze the cuticle and medulla scales of various hairs from the shield, as well as the fibers, and the rod elements providing its structure. This enabled the precise identification of the animal and plant species chosen by the fifteenth-century Mexica artisans. Non-invasive spectroscopic techniques, yielded surprising and unexpected results. Fiber Optics Reflectance Spectroscopy (FORS) analysis identified the use of cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) to dye the animal hair that adorned the surface and also delineated the sections of hide trimmed by the Mexica artisans. X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), in turn, revealed that the shield originally was decorated with gold elements that were removed within the last five hundred years of the history of this object. In this work we discuss the archaeometric results of the material findings and their implications concerning the manufacturing technique and original appearance of this unique pre-Hispanic piece.
Cite this Record
Microscopic and Spectrometric Techniques Applied to Identify Luxury Materials in a Fifteenth-Century Aztec Shield. Laura Filloy, María Olvido Moreno Guzmán, José Luis Ruvalcaba Sil, Edgar Casanova, Cynthya Arellano. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451094)
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min long: -107.271; min lat: 18.48 ; max long: -94.087; max lat: 23.161 ;
Abstract Id(s): 23223