What is it about?

Due to its historical importance, the sculpture could not be transferred, altered or sampled for classical laboratory analysis. In that regard, the application of non-destructive analyses was fundamental; in this particular case, we used a handheld XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) technique. This process allowed us to identify the chemical elements present in the Red Jaguar Throne and their origins, without altering the sculpture’s original condition. The red pigment that covers the sculpture surface consisted of a combination of hematite and cinnabar, the 77 incrustations of green stones turned out to be jadeite minerals and its four fangs were manufactured from a marine gastropod (Lobatus costatus) from the malacological province of the Caribbean. The results tell us about the symbolic meaning of the sculpture within the Mayan culture and of the large commercial networks present in the pre-Hispanic Mayalands.

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Why is it important?

In 1935, the sculpture of the Red Jaguar throne was discovered in the upper part of the sub-structure of Kukulkan's pyramid (Chichén Itzá, Mexico). However, the origins of the raw materials that compose the diverse decorative elements had not been clearly defined.

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This page is a summary of: Portable XRF analysis for the identification of raw materials of the Red Jaguar sculpture in Chichén Itzá, Mexico, Quaternary International, September 2017, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2017.09.012.
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