A restorer has brought these ancient pieces discovered in a tomb back to life by turning them from a dull black into their original shining gold colour.
The Mixtec pieces come from tomb number seven at the pre-Columbian archaeological site of Monte Alban, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.
The Mixtecs were indigenous Mesoamerican peoples who lived in what is now Mexico.
Now, restorer Sara Eugenia Fernandez Mendiola of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) has been able to bring several pieces from the 200-object strong collection back to life by recovering their original shiny hues.
Fernandez removed layers of dirt and corrosion to bring out the original shining gold, silver and copper tones of the ritual objects and ornaments.
Her work has allowed the pieces to be exhibited like never before at the Museum of Oaxacan Cultures in the state capital of the same name.
The work to identify and then bring out the pieces’ original hues was carried out together with conservation specialists Patricia Ruiz Portilla and Diego Jauregui Gonzalez.
The experts were able to bring out several different shades of gold, from an almost greenish colour to a reddish-yellow tone, based on the amount of silver and copper present, in several pieces including pectorals, earrings, rings, ear plugs, bracelets, clips, brooches and bells.
The pieces date to the Postclassic period from 1250 to 1521 AD.
Fernandez was quoted as saying in an INAH press statement released on 10th January and obtained by Newsflash: “In ancient Mexico it was believed that gold was secreted by the sun and was associated with the eternal due to its low changeability. Likewise, it was thought that the moon secreted bright silver.”
Mixtec goldsmiths would melt gold, silver and copper and mix them in different proportions to fashion the objects, which were intricately crafted.
The experts used magnifying lenses, special lights, a stereoscopic microscope and also took X-rays to investigate the pieces on the inside to then determine how best to restore each object.
Fernandez said: “It is essential to continue with the dissemination of these cultural assets that bear a wonderful artistic language. Their shiny surface reflects a worldview that survives among the Mixtec people; their mythical, dual and sacred origin is an important link between the ancestors of that society and its current heirs.”