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Compositional study of slips and paintings in San José and Santa María pottery (Yocavil valley, Northwest Argentina): an approach by non-destructive and complementary techniques

  • Non-destructive techniques for cultural heritage
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Rendiconti Lincei. Scienze Fisiche e Naturali Aims and scope Submit manuscript


From a multidisciplinary perspective, we propose a first comparative study on the pigments of archeological pottery San José and Santa María of Yocavil valley, Province of Catamarca, Northwest Argentina (ca. S XI–XVI AD). Both stylistic sets share a color palette in which the black, red and cream tones are structured. Considering that we are handling objects of cultural heritage, an analysis strategy was developed that combines non-destructive techniques (XRFp and XRD) and minimally destructive sampling methods with other techniques (EDS and micro-Raman spectroscopy) for the characterization of elements and crystalline phases in pigments. The results show not only some shared features—as hematite in red paints and cream slips resulting from a low-iron clay base preparation—but also some diversity in the composition of the pigments—as presence of rutile in some red paints and pyrolusite or series of solid solutions in the system manganese–iron oxides in black pigments.

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  1. For example Museo Etnográfico “Juan B. Ambrosetti” (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Museo Nazionale Prehistorico Etnografico “L. Pigorini” (Rome, Italy), Musée du Quay Branly (París, France), Världskulturmuseet Göteborg (Gothenburg, Sweden), Ethnologisches Museum (Dahlem, Berlin, Germany), Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig (Leipzig, Germany), Wiener Museum für Völkerkunde (Vienna, Austria), Museo de América (Madrid, Spain), Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (St. Petersburg, Russia), Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, USA) (Pegoraro 2009; Palamarczuk and Grimoldi 2016; Weber 1978; Nastri and Vietri 2004; Dmitrenko 2017).

  2. The fragments were recovered in the field by the Yocavil Archaeological Project, directed by Dr. Myriam N. Tarragó, with the authorization of the Provincial Directorate of Anthropology of Catamarca Province.


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The authors acknowledge CONICET, ANPCyT (PICT 2014-0345; 2015-0351; 2016-0349) and the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) (20020170100340BA; 20020170100318BA). The authors want to thank Dr. Gabriela Siracusano and Centro de Investigación en Arte, Materia y Cultura (Materia-CIMAC) of the University of Tres de Febrero (UNTreF) for the use of XRFp. Also  thank to Dr. Emilia B. Halac (CNEA), Dr. Mariana Rosenbush (CNEA), Dr. Ayelén Mancini (CNEA), Dr. Marta Maier (UMYMFOR), Dr. Myriam Tarragó (IDECU) and the organizers of the meeting Non-Destructive Techniques for Cultural Heritage NDTCH 2018.

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Correspondence to Valeria Palamarczuk or María Cecilia Fuertes.

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Palamarczuk, V., Tomasini, E., Zalduendo, M.M. et al. Compositional study of slips and paintings in San José and Santa María pottery (Yocavil valley, Northwest Argentina): an approach by non-destructive and complementary techniques. Rend. Fis. Acc. Lincei 31, 461–472 (2020).

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