Notes on colors and pigments in the ancient world

Year: 2012

Authors: Omarini S.

Autors Affiliation: National Institute of Optics – C.N.R. Florence, Italy

Abstract: There have been plenty of writings about ancient pigments, how to obtain them, what they contain, their physical and chemical properties, and how to identify them and, as they say, buckets of ink have been consumed in the process. What I feel needs emphasising here are some particular aspects that have been frequently overlooked. This paper is nothing other than a number of annotations about colours and pigments in the ancient world. The figurative expression of meaning is the first considered aspect. Blue ultramarine and purple are the two demonstrative considered examples where the “material meaning” is substituted by the “colour meaning”. The second considered aspect is the formulae uncertainty. This concerns the artificial pigments as the Ceruse or the Naples Yellow where the comprehension of the recipes is fundamental to understand the ancient composition. Prices,
fashion and styles in the Roman world is the last considered aspect. This has strongly conditioned the diffusion of the pigments and, of course, of the colours.


Volume: 8      Pages from: 61  to: 67

KeyWords: pigments; materials;