Diversity of Dyes in History and Archaeology, The

Jo Kirby Atkinson (ed.)

UK Price: £55.00 US Price: $95.00

Show Contents

ISBN: 9781909492530
Binding: Paperback
Dimensions: 245 x 174 mm
Pages: 464
Illustrations: 186 colour and 45 halftones

Historical and archaeological research has revealed the importance of colour for our
forefathers in every aspect of life. Much of this colour was provided by dyes, initially
from naturally occurring sources, later produced by chemical means to give colours of
a brilliance hitherto unimagined. The papers published in this collection (supported by a generous donation from Abegg-Stiftung), all presented at Dyes in History and Archaeology meetings, demonstrate how dyes were used through the centuries. If one century is chosen – the 17th century, for example – a fascinating comparison can be made between the dyes and dyeing methods used in
Europe, in Turkey, in South America and in Japan, not only on textiles, but also in the
pigments used for painting.
Taking a different approach, chemical analysis has assisted detective work enabling a
distinction to be made between rather similar 18th-century textiles with chinoiserie
motifs, not all of which were Chinese in origin. Chemical research also shows how
much we have still to understand: madder has been one of the most widely used dyes,
for textile dyeing and also in pigment preparation, but why are madder pigments
in 15th- and 16th-century paintings so variable in their composition? The methods
of dyeing have been studied extensively, but the process taking place during the
mordanting and dyeing of cellulosic fibres such as linen or cotton with alizarin, a major
component of madder dye, is still a matter for discussion.
Over the long time scale covered in this book, many developments took place and are
described in its pages. One of the most exotic of dyes, shellfish purple, was used in
Late Bronze Age wall paintings dated to the 17th century BC at Akrotiri, while over
3000 years later the brilliantly coloured, but sometimes impermanent synthetic dyes,
devised by chemists, appeared on the market: the azo dyes, fluorescein, the eosins and
others. A long and distinguished history of the use of colour, a glorious variety of dyes
revealed – the diversity of dyes in history and archaeology.

For a look inside click here.