VANESSA MUROS visits Field Museum’s Elemental Analysis Facility to study ritual use of red ochre pigments

Vanessa Muros, Director of the Cotsen's Experimental and Archaeological Sciences Lab (EASL), recently spent a week in Chicago at the Field Museum's Elemental Analysis Facility (EAF) where she worked with research scientist Dr. Laure Dussubieux to analyze red ochre pigments from the middle Chincha Valley of Peru.  This analysis is part of a larger project Muros has been working on with Dr. Jacob Bongers (Senior Research Associate, University of East Anglia and recent UCLA doctoral recipient) and Colleen O'Shea (Assistant Objects Conservator, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco). They are studying the ritual use of red pigments within chullpas (above-ground and subterranean mausolea) that date to the Late Intermediate Period (AD 1000 – 1400) and from the Late Horizon (AD 1400 – 1532) to the Early-Middle Colonial Period (AD 1532 – 1825). Muros and Dr. Dussubieux used laser ablation-inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) to look at trace elements in the ochre samples, as well as those in geological samples, to investigate procurement practices of this mineral pigment within the middle Chincha Valley. The project was in part funded by NSF Grant #1628026 to the EAF at the Field Museum.