Toxic Pigment in a Capacocha Burial: Instrumental Identification of Cinnabar in Inca Human Remains from Iquique, Chile

B. Arriaza, J. P. Ogalde, M. Campos, C. Paipa, P. Leyton, N. Lara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

We report on the analysis of a red pigment found in a lavish Inca burial from Cerro Esmeralda, Chile, associated with the human sacrifice of two young girls. The outcome shows that the red pigment is mainly cinnabar, with 95% of HgS content. Cinnabar is rarely found in the archaeological record of Chile. Thus, we propose that our results are another line of evidence supporting Iquique's Cerro Esmeralda inhumation as a unique Inca ritual. It was a special lower-elevation capacocha burial, most probably undertaken to politically and symbolically incorporate the coastal people into the Tawantinsuyo Empire.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1324-1333
Number of pages10
JournalArchaeometry
Volume60
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cerro Esmeralda
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • SEM
  • ancient poisoning
  • mercury
  • mortuary rituals
  • red pigments

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