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Micro-Attenuated Total Reflection Spectral Imaging in Archaeology: Application to Maya Paint and Plaster Wall Decorations

Volume 62, Number 1 (Jan. 2008) Page 10-16

Goodall, Rosemary A.; Hall, Jay; Sharer, Robert J.; Traxler, Loa; Rintoul, Llew; Fredericks, Peter M.

Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) attenuated total reflection (ATR) imaging has been successfully used to identify individual mineral components of ancient Maya paint. The high spatial resolution of a micro FT-IR-ATR system in combination with a focal plane array detector has allowed individual particles in the paint to be resolved and identified from their spectra. This system has been used in combination with micro-Raman spectroscopy to characterize the paint, which was found to be a mixture of hematite and silicate particles with minor amounts of calcite, carbon, and magnetite particles in a sub-micrometer hematite and calcite matrix. The underlying stucco was also investigated and found to be a combination of calcite with fine carbon particles, making a dark sub-ground for the paint.