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Representative image of hands covered with Maya blue pigment. Source: Generated with Adobe Firefly

Maya Sacrificial Victims Were Painted Blue and Tossed into a Sinkhole

In Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula lies a site which was once central to Maya sacrificial rituals—the sacred cenote of Chichen Itza. This natural sinkhole harbors secrets of human sacrifice and religious...
Detail of a mural from an Eastern Han tomb (25 to 220 AD) at Zhucun, Luoyang, Henan province. The painting utilizes Han purple and Han blue pigment. Source: Public domain

Han Purple: The 2,800-Year-Old Mystery Solved by Quantum Physicists

Han purple, an artificial pigment created by the Chinese over 2,500 years ago, was used in ancient artworks such as wall paintings, the famed terracotta warriors, ceramics, metalware and jewelry. A...
A Roman wearing Tyrian purple. Source: AI generated.

Roman Citizens Could Be Punished with Exile for Wearing Purple

The ancient Roman Empire was not only a marvel of architecture, politics, and warfare but also a hub of societal regulations and fashion statements. One might believe that the color of a garment...
Erechtheion with Original Paintwork Reconstruction. Source: Mark Cartwright / CC by NC-SA.

Why Ancient Marble Statues Aren’t Meant to Be Seen As “White” (Video)

In the world of classical art, a recent discussion emerged that thrust classicist Sarah Bond into unexpected controversy. Her focus? Ancient statues and the concept of "polychromy." Unlike the serene...
Indigo dye. Source: Thirawatana / Adobe Stock.

The Link Between Japanese Samurai and Real Indigo (Video)

Within the captivating tapestry of Japanese history , a fascinating link emerges between Samurai culture and the realm of real indigo. Tucked away in Tokushima, Japan, a region steeped in tradition,...
Tyrian purple is made from the murex snail. Source: CrisMc / Adobe Stock.

Tyrian Purple: The Secret Process Behind the World’s Most Expensive Dye (Video)

Tyrian purple is an ancient and rare dye that is derived from the murex snail, which is found in the Mediterranean Sea. The process of extracting the dye is complex and labor-intensive, requiring a...
Red skull, representational. Source: ahlaj77 / Adobe Stock

Pre-Inca Peruvians Painted Skulls with Red Pigments

It is well known that ancient cultures in what is today Peru deformed their babies' skulls to form elongated shapes. A new study reveals that, a millennium ago, people 'finger painted' the skulls of...
Unpolished lapis lazuli from Badakhshan province, Afghanistan. Source: Björn Wylezich / Adobe Stock

The Brilliantly Blue Lapis Lazuli: Precious Gem Prized by Elites

In the recent past, a gem that is thought to be more precious than even gold, the elusive lapis lazuli , has received a bad reputation for being a source of illegal mining by the Taliban in...
Left: An unknown Egyptian mummy.  Right: Modern equivalent of Mummy Brown pigment. Source: michal812 / Adobe Stock

Mummy Brown – 16th Century Paint Made from Ground Up Mummies

Most people today would probably associate Egyptian mummies with museums. This is unsurprising, as this is probably where most of us have seen them, especially in Europe. Yet, if I were to say that...
This statue was originally painted. Left: Painted replica of Augustus of Prima Porta statue with pigments reconstructed for the Tarraco Viva 2014 Festival

A More Colorful Ancient World: Classical Statues Were Once Painted

Once upon a time, long before wars, natural disasters, and erosion took hold of the ancient Greek statues, these ivory gems vibrated with color. Ancient Greek sculptors valued animated and pulsating...
Medieval manuscript. Credit: Andrzej Solnica / Adobe Stock

Experts Solve 1000-Year-Old Mystery of Rare Medieval Blue Ink

Portuguese researchers believe that they have identified the long-lost process and plant that provided a unique purple-blue pigment in the Middle Ages . This was used to color many things including...
Egyptian blue pigment: the researchers obtained the nanosheets from this powder. (University of Göttingen

Ancient Egyptian Blue Pigment Revolutionizes Biomedicine

A German research team has produced new nanosheets for near infrared imaging from ancient ‘Egyptian blue pigment’. In October 2018, I wrote an Ancient Origins article about Egyptian blue, a brilliant...
Several of the ancient pigments were deadly. Photo source: Ezume Images / Adobe Stock.

Poisonous Pigments: History’s Deadliest Colors

Throughout history, ancient civilizations have been using all kinds of ingenious ways to create pigments for the coloring of clothing, objects and even buildings. While some of the pigments were...
Amazing artwork was found on walls on a stone tomb in Siberia. Picture: Vladimir Kubarev/IAET SB RAS

5,000 Years Ago, Ancient Scientists Used Chemical Reactions to Create Pigments in Altai Mountains

By The Siberian Times reporter Scientists have unlocked intriguing 5,000-year-old secrets of prehistoric illustrators behind the stunning artwork of Karakol. These magnificent paintings found in the...
Self portrait of Guda, a 12th century nun and female scribe.

Blue Pigment Found on Medieval Teeth Reveals Secret Existence of Female Scribes

The analysis of human teeth has become increasingly important in modern archaeology. A recent discovery of a set of teeth in a German monastery is revolutionizing our understanding of women in...
Roman Painting - Villa dei Misteri, Pompeii, Italy. Miltos was used for yellow and sometimes red in many Greco-Roman paintings

Miltos, The Wonder Dust of the Ancient World

What pigment could be used for ship maintenance, art, agriculture, medicine, and cosmetics? In the Greco-Roman world, the multi-use ocher pigment called Miltos filled all these roles. The powerful...
Egyptian blue shabti figures on display in the Egyptian exhibit at the Louvre in France in 2006.

Eco-Architecture in Egyptian Blue: Scientists Discover Modern Usage for the 4000-Year-Old Pigment

Egyptian blue was a brilliant blue color first created in ancient Egypt over 4000 years ago. Now, scientists have found it to hold unique qualities that can “reduce building energy consumption and...
A Jewish prayer shawl adorned with ritual tassels that contain tekhelet-dyed threads.

Piece of Ancient Fabric Revealed True Source of Biblical Blue Dye Lost for 1,300 Years

An ancient blue dye, known as tekhelet, once adorned the precious robes of kings, priests, and high-ranking Jews. But around two millennia ago, this highly-valued commodity became lost to the pages...
Ancient Egyptian pigment provides modern forensics with new coat of paint

Ancient Egyptian pigment provides modern forensics with new coat of paint

It was during a trip to Indianapolis that Professor Simon Lewis, a forensic and analytical chemist, was approached by Gregory Smith from the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) with an idea. Smith,...
From Chrome Plating to Nanotubes: The ‘Modern’ Chemistry First Used in Ancient Times

From Chrome Plating to Nanotubes: The ‘Modern’ Chemistry First Used in Ancient Times

By Mark Lorch | Epoch Times The ancient Babylonians were the first to use sophisticated geometry – a staggering 1,400 years before it was previously thought to have been developed. Sadly, these...
The Pantheon dome - made entirely out of concrete.

From Chrome Plating to Nanotubes: the ‘Modern’ Chemistry First Used in Ancient Times

The ancient Babylonians were the first to use sophisticated geometry – a staggering 1,400 years before it was previously thought to have been developed. Sadly, these mathematical innovations were...
Left: Egyptian blue shown in an image of Ramses III 1170 BC. Image source. Right: Egyptian Blue pigment.

Experts discover traces of rare artificial pigment on Egyptian mummy portraits and panel paintings

Egyptian Blue is one of the first artificial pigments known to have been used by man. First created around 5,000 years ago by heating a mixture of a calcium compound, a copper-containing compound,...
The so-called ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’.

Did Jesus Have a Wife? New Tests on Ancient Coptic Papyrus May Give Answers

The controversial “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” has been undergoing rigorous forensic testing and academic analysis to determine if the fragment of papyrus is authentic or not. The much-debated gospel, if...
Bearded Man Mystery

Unravelling the Mystery of the Bearded Man

“He looks almost Byzantine or Greek, gazing doe-eyed over the viewer’s left shoulder, his mouth forming a slight pout, like a star-struck lover or perhaps a fan of the races witnessing his favorite...

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