The National Museum of Colombia’s “Francisco Pizarro’s Banner of Arms”: A multianalytical approach to help uncovering its history

  • Diego Armando Badillo-Sanchez
  • Cristina Barrocas Dias
  • Ana Manhita
  • Nick SchiavonEmail author
Regular Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Focus Point on Past and Present: Recent Advances in the Investigation of Ancient Materials by Means of Scientific Instrumental Techniques


The authenticity and provenience of what is known as the Francisco Pizarro’s Banner of Arms, stored at the National Museum of Colombia and related to the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, has been the object of debate amongst both historians and conservation experts for the last two centuries. In this study, a multi-analytical approach has been adopted to assess if the materials used in the making of the banner were compatible with the historical period assigned by historians. 25 micro samples were collected in different sections of the banner and subjected to microscopic, chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques to characterize the materials. Selected samples were also subjected to radiocarbon dating analysis. Analytical results enabled the identification of silk as the main fabric used in the making of the banner; cochineal, brazilwood and indigo were used as natural dyes while metal threads were utilized for decorative purposes. Paper with animal adhesive was used as the supporting material. The manufacturing technique together with radiocarbon dating data suggest the banner to be an original textile from the 15-16th centuries, possibly made at the time of King Charles I of Spain.

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Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diego Armando Badillo-Sanchez
    • 1
  • Cristina Barrocas Dias
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana Manhita
    • 1
  • Nick Schiavon
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.HERCULES LaboratoryUniversity of ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal
  2. 2.Chemistry DepartmentUniversity of ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal

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