Modern Ancient Chemistry of The Processing of Organic Colorants
The chemical processes performed by the ancient dyer from thousands of years ago can be explained using modern chemical principles. Whileinorganic pigments (such as ochres, minium, vermilion, ultramarine etc.) produced magnificent colors for the painting of objects, the mostelaborate chemical processing of colorants in antiquity –from the source to the final product – involved organic dyesfrom flora and fauna sources for the dyeing of textiles. Chromatographic and spectrometric analyses of archaeological textile dyeings have shown that towards this end, the dyerapplied his – or her – practical chemical knowledge of botany,entomology, and malacology. By controlling the temperatureand the alkaline or acidic pH of the dye bath, the dyers wereable to create colorful textile dyeings with some surviving evenafter six millennia. In order to produce such stable products, theancient dyer was able to master advanced chemical methods, such as, ionic, covalent, and intermolecularbonding, coordinate complexation, enzymatic hydrolysis,photochemical chromogenic precursor oxidation, anaerobicbacterial fermentative reduction, and reduction-oxidation reactions. Thispaper discusses various chemical principles that were appliedby the ancient master of colorful chemistry. All of this points to the indisputable fact that, indeed, the ancient dyer was an advanced empirical chemist.
Keywords -Organic Dyes and Pigments.Textile Dyeing. Chromatography and Spectrometry. Archaeology.