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Maya Mural Paintings in Calakmul: Pictorial Technique and Conservation

The Maya archaeological site of Calakmul (Campeche, Mexico) comprises a vast architectural and artistic heritage that stands as an invaluable record of the Maya civilization history. The Calakmul Archaeological Project started in the early 1990s, dealing with the recovery, investigation and preservation of the immense historical and artistic patrimony exposed by excavations to weathering and aging. The sub-tropical climate in Calakmul enhances the degradation of both artefacts and traditional restoration materials, such as synthetic polymeric coatings. Therefore, consolidation of works of art (mural paintings) was carried out using nanoparticles of alkaline earth hydroxides to provide the strengthening of weakened painted layers. In particular, mixed calcium hydroxide and barium hydroxide nanoparticles’ dispersions were applied for the consolidation of sulfate-polluted wall paintings. Preliminary investigations of painting samples shed light on the painting technique, which was characterized as mainly lime-based, confirming that the use of Ca(OH)2 and Ba(OH)2 is completely compatible with the physico-chemical properties of the artistic substrates. In fact, the application of nanoparticles resulted in long-term consolidation of the murals and re-adhesion of flaking parts.

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Print publication date
14 Aug 2014
Copyright year
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ePub eISBN