September 30, 2022

Human Blood Detected in Bright Red Paint on 1,000-Year-Old Gold Mask From Peru

A red paint sample taken from a 1,000-year-old mask excavated from a Sicán tomb in Peru consists of human blood and bird egg proteins, in addition to a red pigment. Credit: Adapted from Journal of Proteome Research 2021, DOI: 10.1021/ acs.jproteome.1 c00472.
Thirty years earlier, archeologists excavated the tomb of an elite 40– 50-year-old man from the Sicán culture of Peru, a society that preceded the Incas. The guys seated, upside-down skeleton was painted brilliant red, as was the gold mask covering his separated skull. Now, scientists reporting in ACS Journal of Proteome Research have actually analyzed the paint, finding that, in addition to a red pigment, it includes human blood and bird egg proteins.
The Sicán was a prominent culture that existed from the ninth to 14th centuries along the northern coast of modern-day Peru. Throughout the Middle Sicán Period (about 900– 1,100 A.D.), metallurgists produced an amazing array of gold objects, many of which were buried in tombs of the elite class. In the early 1990s, a team of conservators and archaeologists led by Izumi Shimada excavated a burial place where an elite males seated skeleton was painted red and put upside down at the center of the chamber. The skeletons of 2 young females were arranged nearby in birth and midwifing positions, and two bending kidss skeletons were put at a greater level. Among the lots of gold artifacts discovered in the burial place was a red-painted gold mask, which covered the face of the mans removed skull. At the time, scientists identified the red pigment in the paint as cinnabar, however Luciana de Costa Carvalho, James McCullagh and associates questioned what the Sicán people had actually utilized in the paint mix as a binding material, which had actually kept the paint layer connected to the metal surface area of the mask for 1,000 years.
To discover out, the researchers evaluated a small sample of the masks red paint. They identified 6 proteins from human blood in the red paint, including serum albumin and immunoglobulin G (a type of human serum antibody). The identification of human blood proteins supports the hypothesis that the plan of the skeletons was related to a preferred “renewal” of the deceased Sicán leader, with the blood-containing paint that covered the guys skeleton and face mask possibly signifying his “life force,” the scientists state.

The mans seated, upside-down skeleton was painted bright red, as was the gold mask covering his separated skull. At the time, researchers determined the red pigment in the paint as cinnabar, but Luciana de Costa Carvalho, James McCullagh and associates wondered what the Sicán people had utilized in the paint mix as a binding product, which had actually kept the paint layer connected to the metal surface of the mask for 1,000 years.
They determined six proteins from human blood in the red paint, consisting of serum albumin and immunoglobulin G (a type of human serum antibody).

Recommendation: “Human Blood and Bird Egg Proteins Identified in Red Paint Covering a 1000-Year-Old Gold Mask from Peru” by Elisabete Pires, Luciana da Costa Carvalho, Izumi Shimada and James McCullagh, 28 September 2021, Journal of Proteome Research.DOI: 10.1021/ acs.jproteome.1 c00472.

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