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The rare blue invented by the Maya
by Devon Van Houten Maldonado
BBC News Translate This Article
17 August 2018
On 17 August 2018 BBC News reported:
In 17th Century Europe, when Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Peter Paul Rubens painted their famous masterworks, ultramarine blue pigment made from the semi-precious lapis lazuli stone was mined far away in Afghanistan and cost more than its weight in gold. Across the Atlantic Ocean, colonial Baroque works ... in early 17th Century Mexico ... were full of this beautiful blue. How could this be? Lapis lazuli was even rarer in the New World.
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It wasn't until the middle of the 20th Century that archaeologists discovered the Maya had invented a resilient and brilliant blue, centuries before their land was colonized and their resources exploited. ...
Archaeologists studying pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican ruins were surprised by the discovery of blue murals in the Maya Riviera, modern day Mexico and Guatemala, from as early as 300 AD ....
Archaeologists were puzzled by the resilience of the blue in the murals. The anil plant, part of the indigo family, was widely available in the region but was mostly used for dyes rather than paint. Indigo was quick to fade in the sunlight and natural elements, so experts mused that the Maya couldn't have used the same widely available dye to paint the murals. It wasn't until the late 1960s that the source of Maya blue's resilience through the centuries was discovered: a rare clay called attapulgite, which was mixed with the dye from the anil plant.
To read the entire article click and see pictures (paintings and murals) here
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