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Issue 1, 2007
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The invention of blue and purple pigments in ancient times

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Abstract

This tutorial review examines manmade blue and purple pigments appearing in antiquity. They were obtained by chemical synthesis from mineral starting materials and refer to chemical compounds: Egyptian Blue (CaCuSi4O10), Han Blue (BaCuSi4O10) and Han Purple (BaCuSi2O6), Maya Blue (x·indigo·(Mg,Al)4Si8(O,OH,H2O)24) and Ultramarine Blue (Na,Ca)8(AlSiO12)(S, SO4,Cl). The Egyptian and Chinese copper-based pigments are assumed to have been developed independently and are presumably an outcome of the historical developments in glazing techniques. A technology transfer from Egypt into China cannot be fully excluded but, based on the facts acquired up to now, looks less probable.

Graphical abstract: The invention of blue and purple pigments in ancient times

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Article information


Submitted
02 May 2006
First published
12 Oct 2006

Chem. Soc. Rev., 2007,36, 15-30
Article type
Tutorial Review

The invention of blue and purple pigments in ancient times

H. Berke, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2007, 36, 15
DOI: 10.1039/B606268G

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