Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Maya Blue: The chemistry of a Pre-Columbian pigment A group of chemists claim to have cracked the recipe of Maya Blue

The visitor to the Maya and their realm, whether traveling through the Yucatan, Central America, and visiting awesome Chichén Itza or via the printed pages of the early explorers — John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood, is regularly awed by the archaeological trail to Lost Cities.
Catherwood’s painting of Tulum, Stephens & Catherwood, 1843.

Upon closer investigation of the Maya and their realm, broad perspective beckons the traveler to “dig” deeper! There is, for example, the mystery of Maya Blue.
The ancient Maya used a vivid, remarkably durable blue paint to cover their palace walls, co-dices, pottery and maybe even the bodies of human sacrifices who were thrown to their deaths down sacred wells. 

Now a group of chemists claim to have cracked the recipe of Maya Blue. Scientists have long known the two chief ingredients of the intense blue pigment: indigo, a plant dye that's used to-day to color denim; and palygorskite, a type of clay. But how the Maya cooked up the unfading paint remained a mystery. Has the riddle been unscrambled? 
Xultun mural & Maya Blue.

Now Spanish researchers report that they found traces of another pigment in Maya Blue, which they say gives clues about how the color was made.

At 3:30 pm, Sunday March 20, 2016 at the Evanston Public Library,1703 Orrington Av on Sunday, The CAS Guest Speaker, Dr. Thomas Higgins will address the vexing problem of Maya Blue and add more knowledge to our ever-expanding understanding of the timeless Maya.

By Bob Stelton - Editor

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