Composition of pigments on human bones found in excavations in Argentina studied with micro-Raman spectrometry and scanning electron microscopyComposition of pigments on human bones found in excavations in Argentina studied with micro-Raman spectrometry and scanning electron microscopy
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
AXES (Antwerp X-ray Analysis, Electrochemistry and Speciation)
Laboratory Experimental Medicine and Pediatrics (LEMP)
6(2009), p. 112-117
University of Antwerp
Results on analysis of prehistoric pigments from excavations and pigments on coloured child bones from North Patagonia, Argentina, are reported. To analyze their composition we used two micro-analytical techniques: micro- Raman spectrometry (MRS) and scanning electron microscopy coupled with X-ray micro-analysis (SEM/EDX). Most investigated excavated pigments show red or yellow ochres consistent with reddish or yellow minerals, such as á- and ã-goethite, haematite, erdite, haapalaite and jarosite. Raman spectra show also evidence of calcium oxalate monohydrate and calcite indicating lichen activity. Pigments covering human bones were identified as hematite and magnetite. This study allows us to infer that pigments found in excavation were employed for burial ceremonies, even though distances between excavated pigment archaeological site and buried remains are quite far, more than 50 km in a straight line.