CFPR Seminar: Iridescence in the Ancient Americas (watch online)

Abigail Trujillo, CFPR Research Associate, will be talking on the topic of structural colour in nature and archaeology. Weds 1 April, 1 – 1.30pm.
The featured image is a Quetzal Feathered Headdress, held in the Weltmuseum in Vienna.

Iridescence in the ancient Americas was a distinctive element of sacred birds such as the hummingbird or the quetzal, and an attribute of deities and archetypes linked to these birds. Real and illusory feathers and specifically the quetzal feathers were used to symbolize what is precious. Artistry in the Classic and Postclassic periods of Mesoamerica was recognized as a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the precious serpent. The interest in colours and materials to communicate specific optical effects led to the use of transparency in wall painting and the development of a nanostructured material, the Maya blue pigment.

We discuss the physics and perception of structural colour in nature and processed materials by exploring archaeology and we venture other interpretation of iridescence based on words and artworks.

If you know of anyone who wants to be added to the CFPR Seminar Group mailing list to hear about upcoming talks and events, or put forward for a talk, please let Damien Leech know at

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