Raman Identification of Pigments in Wall Paintings of the Colonial Period from Bolivian Churches in the Ruta De La Plata


  • Carlos Rúa Taller Nacional de Patrimonio Muebles, Ministerio de Culturas y Turismo, La Paz
  • Marcela Sepúlveda Laboratorio de Análisis e Investigaciones Arqueométricas (LAIA), Instituto de Alta Investigación (IAI), Universidad de Tarapacá
  • Sebastián Gutiérrez Laboratorio de Análisis e Investigaciones Arqueométricas (LAIA), Instituto de Alta Investigación (IAI), Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica
  • José J. Cárcamo-Vega Laboratorio de Análisis e Investigaciones Arqueométricas (LAIA), Instituto de Alta Investigación (IAI), Departamento de Química, Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica
  • Julio Surco-Luque Departamento de Química, Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica
  • Marcelo Campos-Vallette Departamento de Química, Universidad de Chile, Santiago
  • Fernando Guzmán Facultad de Artes Liberales, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Viña del Mar
  • Paola Conti Facultad de Artes Liberales, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Viña del Mar
  • Magdalena Pereira Fundación Altiplano, Arica




Andean colonial churches, wall paintings, pigments, Raman spectroscopy


Micro-Raman spectroscopy was used to analyze and identify pigments and determine the palette of color in wall paintings from four churches of the Colonial Period, in the Bolivian highlands. The ancient churches Santiago de Callapa, Curahuara de Carangas, NuestraSeñora de Copacabana de Andamarca and San José de Soracachi were constructed during the 17th and 18th centuries, around the important colonial Ruta de la Plata, between Potosí city and Arica harbor on the Pacific coast of South America. Most pigments used in the wall paintings correspond to inorganic minerals as well as to organic colorants. Fully chlorinated copper phthalocyanine (green), copper phthalocyanine (blue), β-naphthol (yellow) and benzoimidazolone (red), were identified in the corresponding colored areas suggesting subsequent recent interventions or restorations. Ground layer materials were also characterized. The present results allow for discussion of the pictorial techniques used in the Andean highland during the colonial period and allow conservators and restorers to make important decisions regarding the type of intervention to perform in the case of these important historical and patrimonial monuments.


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How to Cite

Rúa, C., Sepúlveda, M., Gutiérrez, S., Cárcamo-Vega, J. J., Surco-Luque, J., Campos-Vallette, M., Guzmán, F., Conti, P., & Pereira, M. (2017). Raman Identification of Pigments in Wall Paintings of the Colonial Period from Bolivian Churches in the Ruta De La Plata. Conservation Science in Cultural Heritage, 17(1), 117–137. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1973-9494/7945