A Raman spectroscopic analysis of pigments from Dynastic Egyptian funerary artefacts - NMS Research Repository
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A Raman spectroscopic analysis of pigments from Dynastic Egyptian funerary artefacts

Abstract

As part of a comprehensive analytical survey, Raman spectra were obtained of pigments from ancient Egyptian funerary artefacts dating from the 17th Dynasty to the Graeco‐Roman period, using several laser excitation wavelengths. A wide colour palette has been identified with mineral pigments and pigment mixtures; several variations were detected with dynastic changes. The artefacts include sarcophagi, coffin lids, shroud covers and mummy face‐masks. Haematite was in universal use throughout the dynastic period studied here, which represents some 2000 years of Egyptian history, but minerals such as cinnabar and minium appear only in artefacts from the Ptolemaic and Graeco‐Roman periods. Different pigments were used to produce similar colours on some associated artefacts and several artefacts have mixtures of pigments for a single colour. One 17th Dynasty sarcophagus, dating from ca 1600 BC, had an unusual suite of pigments, with the blue pigment lazurite and a mixture of crocoite, limonite and calcite used as a yellow pigment. This coffin was heavily restored in the 20th Century and these unusual pigments could have arisen from this restoration. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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