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Article

Compositional and Micro-Morphological Characterisation of Red Colourants in Archaeological Textiles from Pharaonic Egypt

1
Department of Scientific Research, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK
2
Dipartimento di Chimica, Università degli Studi di Torino, Via Giuria, 7-10125 Torino, Italy
3
Dipartimento di Scienze e Innovazione Tecnologica, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, viale T. Michel, 11-15121 Alessandria, Italy
4
Fondazione Museo delle Antichità Egizie, Via Accademia delle Scienze, 6–10123 Torino, Italy
5
Soprintendenza Archeologia belle arti e paesaggio per la città metropolitana di Torino, Piazza S. Giovanni, 2-10122 Torino, Italy
6
Department of Egypt and Sudan, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Molecules 2019, 24(20), 3761; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24203761
Received: 30 August 2019 / Revised: 25 September 2019 / Accepted: 15 October 2019 / Published: 18 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Dyes)
When the imagination conjures up an image of an Egyptian mummy, it is normally one of a human body wrapped with undyed linen bandages. However, the reality was much more colourful, as shown by the set of red mummy shrouds and textile fragments from Pharaonic Egypt considered in this work. The textiles were subjected to scientific investigation with the main aim of shedding light on the sources of red colour and on the possible reasons for the different levels of colour fading. The red colourants were investigated using various non-invasive and micro-invasive approaches. The results pointed towards the presence of three sources of red colour, which, in increasing order of lightfastness, are safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), madder (Rubia spp.), and red ochre. Micro-morphological observations and elemental analyses also enabled some hypotheses to be formulated regarding the application of these colourants to the textiles. The results not only deepen our knowledge of dyeing technologies in ancient Egypt and shed new light on the function of red shrouds and textiles as part of the funerary practices of Pharaonic Egypt, but are also essential in planning the display and future preservation of these mummies and their associated textiles. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural dyes; Pharaonic Egypt; archaeological textiles; colour fastness; multi-analytical approach; mordants natural dyes; Pharaonic Egypt; archaeological textiles; colour fastness; multi-analytical approach; mordants
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MDPI and ACS Style

Tamburini, D.; Dyer, J.; Davit, P.; Aceto, M.; Turina, V.; Borla, M.; Vandenbeusch, M.; Gulmini, M. Compositional and Micro-Morphological Characterisation of Red Colourants in Archaeological Textiles from Pharaonic Egypt. Molecules 2019, 24, 3761. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24203761

AMA Style

Tamburini D, Dyer J, Davit P, Aceto M, Turina V, Borla M, Vandenbeusch M, Gulmini M. Compositional and Micro-Morphological Characterisation of Red Colourants in Archaeological Textiles from Pharaonic Egypt. Molecules. 2019; 24(20):3761. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24203761

Chicago/Turabian Style

Tamburini, Diego, Joanne Dyer, Patrizia Davit, Maurizio Aceto, Valentina Turina, Matilde Borla, Marie Vandenbeusch, and Monica Gulmini. 2019. "Compositional and Micro-Morphological Characterisation of Red Colourants in Archaeological Textiles from Pharaonic Egypt" Molecules 24, no. 20: 3761. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24203761

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