Museo del Oro
In June, the REVERSEACTION team visited our colleagues in Colombia on a whirlwind trip to collect data on a wide range of archaeological materials. For part of the trip, the team was based at the Museo del Oro. As always, REVERSEACTION’s Lina Maria Campos-Quintero, who is a Curator and Archaeologist at the Museo del Oro, oversaw the work, facilitating access to the archaeological collections, and providing crucial contextual information.


Woman setting up analytical equipment in a museum
Kate Klesner, analysing ceramics at the Museo del Oro

Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Kate Klesner, was focused on the pXRF analysis of Nariño ceramic vessels (more information about the types of vessels analysed will be shared in an upcoming post). Helping Kate to document these ceramics was Rosie Crawford, who undertook 3D scanning using an Artec Space Spider structured light scanner. These scans have since been used to create 3D models of the artefacts, which have been shared by the Museo del Oro’s social media team. Moving forward, both Rosie and Kate will be working with the models of ceramic vessels to help understand their production processes, including how they were formed and decorated.


Rosie has also generated 3D models of Muisca stone matrices, which are believed to have been used to make wax models to be employed in the production of gold-alloy (tumbaga) artefact production (Long et al., 1989). Agnese Benzonelli spent her first week at the Museo del Oro also looking at these matrices and analysing the tumbaga beads believed to have been made using them via pXRF, photography and optical microscopy. Both Agnese and Rosie will continue to investigate the relationship between the stone matrices and metal objects using 3D scans and photographs.


Woman uses a 3D scanner to analyse a stone artefact in a museum
Rosie, 3D scanning Muisca stone matrices using an Artec Space Spider 3D scanner

Agnese also investigated the gold votive offerings recently excavated in the Muisca cemetery site, Divino Niño, in the Sopó valley. Agnese analysed tumbaga artefacts and emeralds beads using pXRF and digital optical microscopy to assess their chemical composition, provenance, and manufacturing processes.


Anne Kwaspen, spent her time at the Museo del Oro analysing Muisca and Guane textiles with optical microscopy. Anne worked closely with REVERSEACTION colleague, Adriana Escobar, who is a textiles conservator and restorer at the Museo del Oro. Anne remained in Colombia, working together with Adriana for a further three weeks. A full recount of Anne’s time in Colombia will follow soon.


Woman analysing textiles
Post-doctoral Research Associate, Anne Kwaspen, analysing textiles at the Museo del Oro

Weekend Trip to Meet Traditional Weavers
Organised by Lina and Adriana, REVERSEACTION took a weekend excursion north towards Boyacá, to visit some traditional weavers and learn about the weaving process. For our first stop, before entering Boyacá, REVERSEACTION visited the town of Cucunubá, an area that was once part of the Muisca Confederation. The team were given weaving demonstrations by @tejiendo_tradicion in their workshop and heard stories of what it was like to grow up weaving in the town. The following day, REVERSEACTION continued on to Nobsa to visit another workshop, @miviejotelarnobsa. We were given demonstrations of each step of the weaving process, before visiting their adjacent shop for a toast and, of course, ruanas.


7 Reverseaction team members stand in front of a traditional loom
REVERSEACTION visit traditional weavers in Cucunuba

During the second week of the trip, Agnese, Anne and Rosie were welcomed to INGETEC by Joaquin Otero Santillan, for the analyses of artefacts from the Nueva Esperanza archaeological site. The key focus of this visit was to undertake digital optical microscopy of the vast collection of the spindle-whorls from the site. Moreover, Agnese was given access to a collection of lost-wax-cast gold-alloy artefacts. She wanted to assess their potential for carbon dating in the future (possible due to the presence of charcoal on the objects, remaining from the casting process).


Woman analyses gold artefacts.
Post-doctoral Research Associate, Agnese, looking at gold-alloy artefacts from Nueva Esperanza at INGETEC


REVERSEACTION would like to say a special thank you to everyone who made this trip and the analyses we undertook possible. Thank you to the Museo del Oro and INGETEC for welcoming us, overseeing our work and allowing us access to the facilities and artefacts.


Of course, we would also like to thank @tejiendo_tradicion and @miviejotelarnobsa for welcoming us into their workshops; the experience was invaluable.


Long, S. L. Rueda, L. T. Boada Rivas, A. M. (1989) ‘Matrices de piedra y su uso en la metalurgia muisca, Núm. 25: Boletín Museo del Oro, Matrices de piedra y su uso en la metalurgia muisca | Boletín Museo del Oro (