Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Grolier Codex: A Non Destructive Study of a Possible Maya Document using Imaging and Ion Beam Techniques

  • Jose Luis Ruvalcaba (a1), Sandra Zetina (a2), Helena Calvo del Castillo (a3), Elsa Arroyo (a4), Eumelia Hernández (a5), Marie Van der Meeren (a6) and Laura Sotelo (a7)...

The Grolier Codex has been a controversial document ever since its late discovery in 1965. Because of its rare iconographical content and its unknown origin, specialists are not keen to assure its authenticity that would set it amongst the other tree known Maya codes in the world (Dresden, Paris Codex and Madrid Codex).

The document that has been kept in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City, after its exposure in 1971 at the Grolier Club of New York, has been analyzed by a set of non-destructive techniques in order to characterize its materials including paper fibers, preparation layer and colors composition. The methodology included UV imaging, IR reflectography and optic microscopy examinations as well as Particle Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE) and Rutherford Backscattering Spectrometry (RBS) using an external beam setup for elemental analysis. All the measurements were carried out at 3MV Pelletron Accelerator of the Instituto de Física, UNAM. The aim of this work is to verify if the materials in the Grolier Codex match those found for other pre-Hispanic documents.

From the elemental composition we concluded that the preparation layer shows the presence of gypsum (CaSO4), color red is due to red hematite (Fe2O3) and black is a carbon-based ink. These results agree with previous analyses carried out by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM-EDX) on few samples. However, the presence of Maya Blue in the blue pigment cannot be assured. The examination using UV and IR lights shows homogeneity in the inks and red color but dark areas that contain higher amounts of K in the preparation layer. This paper discusses the results obtained for the UV-IR examinations and the elemental analysis. A comparison with other studies on pre-Hispanic and early colonial codex is presented.

Hide All
1.Alcina Franch, J., 1992. Códices Mexicanos, MAPFRE, Madrid, 219220.
2.Coe, M.D., 1973. The Maya Scribe and His World, The Grolier Club, Nueva York.
3.Thomson, E., 1972. A Commentary on the Dresden Codex: A Maya Hierogplyphic Book, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.
4.Baudez, C. F., 2002. Arqueología Mexicana, Vol. X, num. 55, 7079.
5.Rodríguez-Lugo, V., Mendoza-Anaya, D., Sotelo, L. E., Microstructural Study of the Grolier Codex by Means of LV-SEM, Acta Microscópica, October, (2001), 252–253,
6.Río, M. Sánchez del, Martinetto, P., Somgyi, A., Reyes-Valerio, C., Dooryheé, E., Peltier, N., Alianelli, L, Moignard, B., Pichon, L., Calligaro, T., Dran, J.C., Spectrochimica Acta Part B, (2004) 16191625.
7.Río, M. Sánchez del, Sodo, A., Eeckhout, S.G., Neisius, T., Martinetto, P., Dooryhée, E., Reyes-Valerio, C.; Nuclear Instruments and Methods B, 238 (2005) 5054.
8.Río, M. Sánchez del, Martinetto, P., Reyes-Valerio, C., Dooryhée, E., Suárez, M.; Archaeometry (2006) 115–130.
9.Matteini, M., Moles, A., 2003. La Chimica nel Restauro, I materiali dell'arte pittorica, Nardini Editore, Firenze.
10.Tirado, R. C. González, Masters Thesis, Monfort University, 1998.
11.Binnqüist, C. López, PhD Thesis, University of Twente, Netherlands. Twente University press, Enschede. 2003.
12.Ruvalcaba, J.L and Tirado, C. González 2005. Análisis in situ de documentos históricos mediante un sistema portátil de XRF in La Ciencia de Materiales y su Impacto en la Arqueología. Vol II, Academia Mexicana de Ciencia de Materiales Mendoza, A.C. D., y, J. Arenas coord., V. Rodríguez, Ed. Lagares, México. p. 5579.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

MRS Online Proceedings Library (OPL)
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 1946-4274
  • URL: /core/journals/mrs-online-proceedings-library-archive
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed