Materiality and cultural meaning of color, aromatics, taste and pharmacology in Ancient Art: from the past to the present. Mesoamerica and Ancient Mediterranean cultures.


The versatility of use of pigments, fragrances and flavors – as artistic material in Cultural Heritage, body colors (scented color), medicine (drugs) and ritual (magical-religious beliefs) – was common since ancient societies to the Contemporary World, and it is possible to identify it in the indigenous communities of current Central America. For this reason, this topic is of high impact not only scientifically, but also, from a socio-cultural stand point. This is so because of the aesthetic, ritual and medicinal present-day use of many of the Pre-Columbian artistic materials by indigenous groups living in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua, among others. Through this Cultural and Natural Heritage our projects can build socio-cultural identity and local development.
In this same sense the Conquest of America favored the transmission of this sacred and artistic knowledge between the Old World and the New World, and helped to build new identities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The historical pharmacies from the 16th and 17th centuries are depositaries of this cultural synthesis occurred with the Conquest of America, were doctors and artists bought the substances that they needed to develop their respective art, especially painters. The characterization and cultural study of this pigments-drugs and aromatics preserved in these pharmacies, give us the key to understand this process and its consequences in the present Europe knowledge art and medicine.

Key words

Cultural heritage, environment, art resources, materiality, cultural meaning, cultural heritage, identity, strengthen community, local development, Art History, Archaeometry, Ethnography


Mª. Luisa Vázquez de Ágredos