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The XRF data are crucial in Hurst’s research into artists’ practices—“who painted in what style, why they used which pigments, how autonomous they were or whether they were rendering someone else’s design...” Since the Sub-1A paintings are reachable only through narrow tunnel excavations, the researchers can’t see an entire mural at once or photograph large sections. Instead they start- ed their documentation with measured field drawings and digital scans done in a grid pattern that they tiled together for a complete image of the original art.


painter two painter one


painter three


Hurst scrutinized each area of the murals to determine “where the brush-strokes start and where they end as the paint be- gins to run out. Which color was applied first, and which color overlaps it? Hands and feet are often diagnostic: one painter might render fingers as long and thin, while another depicts stubby fingers.” Adding this visual analysis to her expertise in Maya cul- ture, religious imagery, and technology, she formed the hypothesis that three different painters or teams worked closely to create a unified artwork.


g WINTER 2012 SCOPE 19


SAN BARTOLO SUB-1A, WEST WALL MURAL DETAIL, DIGITAL SCAN, IMAGE BY W. SATURNO, 2004


ILLUSTRATION BY HEATHER HURST ’97, 2009


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