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Multi-Scale Characterization of Unusual Green and Blue Pigments from the Pharaonic Town of Amara West, Nubia

Fulcher, K; Siddall, R; Emmett, TF; Spencer, N; (2021) Multi-Scale Characterization of Unusual Green and Blue Pigments from the Pharaonic Town of Amara West, Nubia. Heritage , 4 (3) pp. 2563-2579. 10.3390/heritage4030145. Green open access

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Abstract

Pigments from paint palettes and a grindstone excavated from the pharaonic town of Amara West (c. 1300–1050 BCE), which lies between the Second and Third Cataracts of the Nile, were examined using polarized light microscopy, attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Most of the pigments were consistent with the typical ancient Egyptian palette, but the greens and some blues were unusual. Two types of green pigment were identified, chlorite (varieties clinochlore and penninite) and copper chloride hydroxide (atacamite type). The former constitutes a type of green earth which has only rarely been identified in pharaonic Egyptian contexts and may be more widespread than is currently reported. The majority of the blue pigment samples were Egyptian blue, but some were found to be a blue earth, the main component of which being sodic amphibole riebeckite. The use of this mineral as a pigment has not previously been reported in any Nile Valley context. These results prompt questions around local and potentially indigenous practices within an ancient colonial context, and highlight avenues for future research.

Type: Article
Title: Multi-Scale Characterization of Unusual Green and Blue Pigments from the Pharaonic Town of Amara West, Nubia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/heritage4030145
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4030145
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: pigments; ancient Egypt; Nubia; Egyptian blue; atacamite; green earth; riebeckite
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP: Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135024
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