According to a new study, the 1,000-year-old mask found on the head of an ancient skeleton was painted using human blood.
Archaeologists from the Sikan Archaeological Project unearthed a gold mask in the early 1990s while excavating an ancient tomb in Peru. Built around 1000 AD, the tomb belonged to a middle-aged elite man of ancient Sican culture who lived on the north coast of Peru from the 9th to the 14th centuries.
The skeleton, also painted red, was found sitting upside down in the center of a 39-foot (12-meter) deep square burial with its head down.
The head, which was intentionally removed from the skeleton, was covered with a red mask with the right side facing up. Inside the tomb, archaeologists found 1.2 tons (1.1 metric tons) of grave goods and the skeletons of four others. Two young women placed in the position of a midwife and a woman giving birth, and two crouching children placed at a higher level.
At the time of the excavation, scientists identified the red pigment in the mask as cinnabar, a bright red mineral made of. Mercury When sulfur.. However, despite being buried deep underground for 1000 years, somehow red paint (a thick layer of 0.04-0.08 inches (1-2 mm)) remained on the mask. “The identity of the binder, which was very effective with red paint, remained a mystery,” the author writes.
In a new study, researchers analyzed a small sample of red paint to see if they could understand the secret ingredients responsible for effective binding.
first, Infrared By spectroscopic techniques that use infrared light to identify the composition of the material, they understand that proteins are present in red paint. Then I used mass spectrometry. It identifies a particular protein in a way that allows different ions in the material to be classified based on charge and mass.
Researchers have discovered that red paint contains six proteins found in human blood. The paint also contained protein derived from egg white. It is unknown from which bird species the egg came from, as the protein is highly degraded, but researchers hypothesize that it may have been the muscovy duck ().Muscovy duck), According to the statement..
“Cinnabar-based paints were usually used in the context of social elites and ceremonially important items,” the author writes in a study. The author writes that while cinnabar had restricted use of the elite, the non-elite used another type of ocher-based paint to paint the object.
According to the statement, archaeologists previously assumed that the placement of the skeleton represented the desired “regeneration” of the deceased Sican leader. For this “desired” regeneration to occur, the ancients probably covered the entire skeleton with red oxygenated blood or this bloody paint, which symbolizes “life force.”
According to a recent analysis, the authors write that Sican sacrificed humans by amputating the neck and upper chest to maximize bleeding. Therefore, “from an archaeological point of view, it is not surprising to use human blood in paints.”
The findings were published on September 28th by the American Chemical Society. Proteome Research Journal..
Originally published in Live Science.
Peru’s ancient golden mask was painted with human blood
https://www.livescience.com/red-paint-blood-gold-mask Peru’s ancient golden mask was painted with human blood