Los egipcios de época romana importaban plomo de las minas de Río Tinto en Huelva para la elaboración de pigmento rojo
Recientes análisis de fluorescencia con rayos- X, efectuados por el Museo de Brooklyn, sobre una momia egipcia de época romana denominada Demetrios, datada entre el año 94-100 de nuestra era, revelarían, por su perfil químico, la utilización de plomo proveniente de Río Tinto (Huelva) para la elaboración del pigmento rojo con el que fue pintada las vendas de Lino y el sarcófago de madera que envolvían y guardaban a este personaje.
El plomo era utilizado en esta zona de amplia tradición minera (más de 5000 años)
para la fundición de la Plata, de la que era gran productora en tiempos del Imperio romano.
El escáner confirma que Demetrios murió con una edad aproximada de 50 años. Sus huesos muestran poco desgaste o deformación, por ello se le supone una posición acomodada, lejos de los duros trabajos realizados por los esclavos. Además, este tipo de pigmentos de importación, eran productos caros por su exotismo, al alcance de pocos bolsillos. Este tipo de momias pintadas de rojo, son excepcionalmente raras, siendo tan sólo conocidas otras 10 de características similares en el mundo. A diferencia de los hombres, las momias de esta época, de mujeres, es multicolor.
El pigmento así obtenido era altamente tóxico, muy venenoso. Por esto, se piensa que pudieron utilizarlo para proteger de acciones externas como; parásitos, etc. al sarcófago y la momia para su preservación.
Cuándo finalicen los estudios sobre ésta y otra momias de animales de la colección del museo, estas, se exhibirán en el Museo de Arte de Indianápolis, en la exposición denominada Vivir Siempre
(2) Mummy Was Painted Red With Spanish Lead
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Aug. 14, 2007 Egyptian mummies may be more international than previously thought, as analysis of one such mummy in the Brooklyn Museum's collection has revealed a surprising connection to Spain.
The mummy, named "Demetrios," turns out to have been wrapped in linen that was decorated with red pigment containing lead that originated in Spain, according to the museum.
"We now think the ancient Egyptians made very specific material choices for mummy preparation," Lisa Bruno, the museum's lead object conservator, told Discovery News.
"Red was thought to ward off danger," she added, explaining that the lead-based paint is toxic, so the Egyptians might have been fighting poison with poison.
Photo 1: The Wealthy Gent. This is an image of a virtual reconstruction of the portrait of Demetrios. Demetrios was excavated from a Roman cemetery in Hawara, Egypt in 1911, and is believed to date between 30 B.C. and 395 A.D. The Brooklyn Museum.
Demetrios recently underwent X-ray fluorescence, a process whereby objects and materials are exposed to short wavelength X-rays that excite atoms and cause them to release radiation. This radiation has energy characteristics of the atoms within the object, so the technique helps researchers to determine what chemicals might be present.
Cool Jobs: Mummy-Hunter.
Bruno said the lead painted on Demetrios matches the chemical profile of lead from Spain's Rio Tinto region, which has been a site for silver and other mining operations for over 5,000 years.
She explained that lead is a byproduct of smelting to extract silver. It is then likely that Spain either exported raw lead at the time of Demetrios' death from around 94-100 A.D., or the lead was made into Spanish paint before making its way to Egypt.
"At the time, Egypt was in the Roman Empire, so the finding reveals how widespread trade was throughout the empire," Bruno said. "The mix of cultures probably was not unlike what exists today in Egypt."
Imported materials would have been hard to come by and therefore probably expensive, so Bruno and her team now speculate that Demetrios was a very wealthy individual. "Red shroud mummies," of which Demetrios is an example, are exceptionally rare, with only 10 known to exist in the entire world.
Only males received the full red treatment, with females having just touches of red on their more multicolored linen wrappings.
Red shroud mummies have portraits painted on wood that were placed over the wrapped bodies. Although Demetrios additionally had the number "89" painted on the wood, a CT scan revealed he likely was in his 50's at the time of his death. Bruno said his portrait does indeed look like that of a distinguished gent in his 50's.
Lawrence Boxt, director of cardiac MRI's and CT scans at New York's North Shore University Hospital, supports the theory that Demetrios was wealthy because he "died a quiet, natural death" with little wear and tear on his bones and body, which otherwise would have suggested a typical laborer's life.
Photo 2: In for Analysis. The mummy, known as Demetrios is directed into scanning machine. Recent X-ray fluorescence performed on the mummy revealed it was decorated in a red coloring that was likely imported from Spain. The Brooklyn Museum.
Boxt even thinks slaves or other workers might have carried around Demetrios, due to the relatively pristine and unused nature of his bones.
Demetrios is just one of many human and animal mummies that will undergo extensive analysis in the coming weeks. The Brooklyn Museum's animal mummy collection is especially diverse, Bruno said, with everything from crocodiles to dogs to an Egyptian mongoose.
After the study, the mummies will form part of a touring exhibit, "To Live Forever," which will open next summer at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.