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Fifty Shades of Red: The Connection of Red Material to the Elite and Supernatural in Pre-Columbian Peru

Hinks, Megan (2014) Fifty Shades of Red: The Connection of Red Material to the Elite and Supernatural in Pre-Columbian Peru. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

The use of red materials in pre-Columbian contexts is an area that has had extremely disparate attention in South American archaeological studies. This research is geared towards an understanding of the role played by red material in the ascension to and retention of high status position. It presents the idea that the presence of red material in the record can be indicative of ritual practices. It also shows that in a burial context, red material can be a corroborative diagnostic feature of an elite status individual, particularly a personage with great spiritual power in a society. This thesis examines the relationship between red materials, the elite and the supernatural, showing how the association with the supernatural imbued red material with symbolic power that was then utilised by the elite to substantiate their own. ‘Supernatural’ is an umbrella term which incorporates environmental disasters, beliefs relating to the afterlife, and the worship of deities and ancestors. This study initially looks at the way the colour red featured in pre-Columbian societies through an examination of cultural context and ideological belief systems. Combined with multiple accounts of the existence of red material in various archaeological contexts, this research indicates the need for further investigation into possible sources of red material and the significance of its use in ritual and elite contexts. The possibility of misidentification or oversight of red materials in these contexts until now suggests the need for more rigorous scientific analyses of red pigments in the archaeological record. This study includes a range of samples from museums in the UK and Peru. Using specific organic ‘spot tests’ a variety of red materials were found in the samples provided, showing the variation present in even a small number of samples. These results highlight how more extensive scientific analyses are vital in order to pursue an informed investigation into the consequences of pigment use and acquisition, and the wider implications of the materials used in embalming.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Miss Megan Hinks
Date Deposited: 24 May 2016 09:50
Last Modified: 24 May 2016 09:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13184

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