Ancient potters, paintings and craft specialization in northwestern argentine region: new data through Raman characterization of pre- and postfiring ceramic paintings on Aguada Portezuelo Ceramics from Middle Period (Catamarca, Argentina)

  • Guillermo A. De La FuenteEmail author
  • Juan Manuel Pérez Martínez
Original Paper


Raman micro-spectroscopy (RMS) is nowadays a very well established analytical technique for the pigment identification in archaeological pottery which allows the study of art and museum objects through a totally non-destructive approach. Data on the chemical nature of the different pigments used by the ancient potters to decorate ceramic vessels can be obtained directly throughout the application of this analytical technique. In this paper, we explore the technological choices done by potters in the past to select, process and apply different natural pigments to decorate the Aguada Portezuelo vessels. The technological process itself is approached through the analytical results obtained from the study of pre- and postfiring paintings in Aguada Portezuelo archaeological ceramics, Middle Period (ca. AD 600–AD 900), Northwestern Argentine region. With the aim to explore the origin of the pigments (inorganic versus organic) used in the past by the potters, several paintings of red, black and brown colours were analyzed by Raman microspectroscopy. Additionally, the chemical nature of the white coloured prefiring slip characteristic of most of this ceramic type was studied, and we explored the molecular structure of the black plumbed coloured internal surfaces of these ceramic bowls.


Ramán microspectroscopy Pigments Ceramics Aguada Portezuelo Catamarca Argentina 



This research was conducted with the support of Department of Chemistry-Physics, University of Alicante, Spain. Additional support to the first author was from Escuela de Arqueología, Universidad Nacional de Catamarca and CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas).

A preliminary paper was presented at XVIII Congreso Nacional de Arqueología Argentina in 2013, and it was benefited from comments by several colleagues. Direction of Anthropology, Government of Catamarca Province gave the special permits to send the ceramic samples to Spain for Raman analysis. Finally, the paper has benefited with comments from two anonymous reviewers whom helped to improve the discussion and the text.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio de Petrología y Conservación Cerámica, CITCaEscuela de Arqueología Universidad Nacional de Catamarca/CONICETCatamarcaArgentina
  2. 2.Departamento de Química-FísicaUniversidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain

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