4374 - Maya Blue (¿Maya Green¿ And ¿Maya Yellow¿): New Insights into the Maya Blue Technology

Recent use of electrochemical techniques, combined with microscopy and spectroscopic techniques, leaded to introduce a new pieces into the Maya Blue scenario, including: the detection of the pigment in wall paintings of the Substructure IIC in the archaeological site of Calakmul, dated in the Late Postclassical period, thus anticipating significantly the date of use of the pigment with regard to the currently accepted period and the contribution of dehydroindigo, the oxidized form of indigo, which could be formed by aerobic oxidation of the palygorskite-associated indigo complex, to the hue of the pigment [1]. Chemometric analysis of Maya Blue samples from different sites suggested that the preparation procedure of Maya Blue probably changed along time following a ramified pattern [2]. Temperature variation of voltammetric data allow to determine thermochemical parameters for dye attachment to palygorskite and provide information on the spatial distribution of l topological isomers of indigo and dehydroindigo in palygorskite crystals [3]. The most recent analysis on yellow samples from wall paintings in several archaeological sites in the Mayas lowlands in Yucatán and Campeche (Mexico) permits to detect the presence of indigoid compounds, including isatin and dehydroindigo, attached to palygorskite, forming a ‘Maya Yellow’ material [4]. Analytical studies on a set of spherical pellets discovered in the Structure 4H1 of the ancient Maya city of La Blanca (Peten Department, Guatemala), dated in the Terminal Classic period, confirm the presence of indigo and its alteration products associated to palygorskite and suggests that the ancient Mayas could prepare indigo, Maya Blue and related green and yellow pigmenting materials in different stages from a common preparative scheme. This process, which would experience local variations during the evolution of the Maya culture, can be regarded as a Maya Blue technology of significant ethnohistoric meaning..

[1] Doménech et al. J. Phys. Chem. B 2006 , 110 , 6027; [2] Doménech et al. Anal. Chem. 2007 , 79 , 2812 and Archaeometry , 2009 , 51 , 1015; [3] Doménech et al. New J. Chem. 2009 , 33 , 2371 and J. Phys. Chem. C 2009 , 113 , 12118; [4] Doménech et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2011 , 50 , 5741.

Keywords: Maya Blue, Preparation, Technology, Evolution, Electrochemistry

Author: Doménech, Antonio (University of Valencia, Spain / Spanien)
Co-Author: María Teresa Doménech-Carbó, Cristina Vidal Lorenzo, Mª Luisa Vázquez de Ágredos


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