Advanced Chemistry Of The Ancient Textile Colorist
The ancient dyer from thousands of years ago was an advanced empirical chemist. The various processes that he – or she – performed can be explained by invoking modern chemical principles. While inorganic pigments (such as ochres, minium, vermilion, ultramarine etc.) produced magnificent colors for the painting of objects, the most elaborate chemical processing of colorants in antiquity – from the source to the final product – involved organic dyes from flora and fauna sources for the dyeing of textiles. Chromatographic and spectrometric analyses of archaeological textile dyeings have shown that towards this end, the dyer applied his – or her – practical chemical knowledge of botany, entomology, and malacology. By controlling the temperature and the alkaline or acidic pH of the dye bath, the dyers were able to create colorful textile dyeings with some surviving even after six millennia. In order to produce such stable products, the ancient dyer was able to master advanced chemical methods, such as, ionic, covalent, and intermolecular bonding, coordinate complexation, enzymatic hydrolysis, photochemical chromogenic precursor oxidation, anaerobic bacterial fermentative reduction, and reduction-oxidation reactions. The talk will discusses various chemical principles that were applied by the ancient master of colorful chemistry, and will show the results of my analyses on archaeological objects from ancient Egypt, Israel, and Persia.
Keywords - Organic dyes and pigments, textile dyeing, chromatography and spectrometry, archaeology.