RECONSTRUCTING THE CHINCHORRO PALETTE: A POSSIBLE ORIGIN FOR MANGANESE-BASED PAINT
Exposures of the upper and lower Huaylas Formation located approximately 80-90 km from Chinchorro sites – first described by Olivares (1962) and Ossa (1970) – were analyzed for isotopic, mineralogic and elemental signatures. δ18O values are very similar for both upper Huaylas Formation and Chinchorro samples (in both cases between 0.0 and 3.0 ‰; lower Huaylas Formation samples are 8-14 ‰). XRD powder analysis indicates that both upper Huaylas Formation Mn-rich rock and Chinchorro masks are dominated by the Mn mineral cryptomelane with lesser quartz and plagioclase. ICP-OES indicates that upper Huaylas Formation Mn-rich rock and Chinchorro masks have similar concentrations of most elements (including Mn, Si, Na, K, Ca, MgO, Ba and Cu). The isotopic, mineralogical and elemental similarities are consistent with a Huaylas Formation source of mask material; however, if the upper Huaylas Formation is the origin of the manganese it presents the question: did the Chinchorro actually travel the entire ~80-90 km over tortuous, arid terrain or did they access fluvially derived cobbles within the Lluta and San José rivers valleys draining the Altiplano?