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Analysis of Stucco Floors from the Citadel of the Archaeological Zone of Teotihuacan, Mexico

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2011

Luis Torres Montes
Affiliation:
Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, UNAM Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 México, D. F. México
Manuel Reyes García
Affiliation:
Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, UNAM Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 México, D. F. México
Julie Gazzola
Affiliation:
Zona Arqueológica de Teotihuacan, INAH, Teotihuacan, México
Sergio Gómez
Affiliation:
Zona Arqueológica de Teotihuacan, INAH, Teotihuacan, México
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Abstract

Severe decay of the stone façade of the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, one of the more remarkable structures in the World Heritage Site archaeological zone of Teotihuacan, Mexico, is caused by the presence of humidity and salt crystallization. The floors were analyzed to determine whether water and salts were filtering up from the ground and to find a way to reduce the penetration of water. Analyses of the lime plaster and organic matter were carried out by traditional wet chemical methods in order to discover the possible recipe that is the basis of the technology used by Pre-Columbian masons. The presence of an organic mucilage and fiber was identified. The organic components of the floors were analyzed using FTIR of extracts, while mucilage from leaves of a local cactus, Opuntia sp, that is used traditionally as a cementing material in plasters, was analyzed for comparative purposes to determine whether the mucilage was also used in pre-Columbian times. X-ray spectrometry and x- ray diffraction were also used to complement the study to identify the mineralogy of the plasters. This study shows that the Teotihuacanos used a composite material that has great durability, permitting the survival of the floors for almost 2000 years, but that also is succeptible to damage in a modern, stressed environment with high tourist traffic.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2005

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References

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