New Research on a Sican Gold Mask with Red Paint

October 30, 2021

In the early 1990’s, the Sican Archaeological project unearthed a tomb containing a 1,000 year old gold mask covered in red paint. It was affixed to a severed head. And the skeletal remains of this man was also sprinkled with the same red paint. Four skeletons and more gold artifacts were also in the tomb. The man in question was a bent at the waist and placed upside down. Two of the other four skeletons were women arranged in birthing and mid-wife positions. Tow others were children in a crouching position. Researchers said the red paint on the male was cinnabar.

Oxford researchers recently performed a chemical analysis of the red paint using mass spectrometry. The paint had jot degraded after 1,000 years. The scientific analysis found organic material was mixed in to the red paint. The proteins unveiled found that it came from human blood and the egg whites of a Muscovy duck common to the region. The skulls face was pointing upward possibly in expecting re-birth while the two women were waiting for a re-birth. The red blood was added to the cinnabar implying an animating feature. The Sican practiced human sacrifice in very grisly ways. So finding blood in the paint would not be surprising. It is possible the women and children in the tomb were sacrificed to act as companions in the next world.

The research is published in the ACS Journal of Proteome Research
Izumi Shimada, the head of the Sicán Archaeological Project, was instrumental in this project.

LiveScience has the report here;

Mike Ruggeri’s Ancient Andean News on WordPress

Mike Ruggeri’s Sican/Chimu Era Peru