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Egyptian Blue Found in Romanesque Altarpiece

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posted on May, 5 2010 @ 11:42 AM

ScienceDaily (May 5, 2010) — A team of researchers from the University of Barcelona (UB) has discovered remains of Egyptian blue in a Romanesque altarpiece in the church of Sant Pere de Terrassa (Barcelona). This blue pigment was used from the days of ancient Egypt until the end of the Roman Empire, but was not made after this time. So how could it turn up in a 12th Century church?

Egyptian blue or Pompeian blue was a pigment frequently used by the ancient Egyptians and Romans to decorate objects and murals. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire (476 AD), this pigment fell out of use and was no longer made. But a team of Catalan scientists has now found it in the altarpiece of the 12th Century Romanesque church of Sant Pere de Terrassa (Barcelona). The results of this research have just been published in the journal Archaeometry.

"We carried out a systematic study of the pigments used in the altarpiece during restoration work on the church, and we could show that most of them were fairly local and 'poor' -- earth, whites from lime, blacks from smoke -- and we were completely unprepared for Egyptian blue to turn up," Mario Vendrell, co-author of the study and a geologist from the UB's Grup Patrimoni research group, said.

The researcher says the preliminary chemical and microscopic study made them suspect that the samples taken were of Egyptian blue. To confirm their suspicions, they analysed them at the Daresbury SRS Laboratory in the United Kingdom, where they used X-ray diffraction techniques with synchrotron radiation. It will be possible to carry out these tests in Spain once the ALBA Synchrotron Light Facility at Cerdanyola del Vallés (Barcelona) comes into operation.

"The results show without any shadow of a doubt that the pigment is Egyptian blue," says Vendrell, who says it could not be any other kind of blue pigment used in Romanesque murals, such as azurite, lapis lazuli or aerinite, "which in any case came from far-off lands and were difficult to get hold of for a frontier economy, as the Kingdom Aragon was between the 11th and 15th Centuries."

Continued story at link


Some interesting information. I think the longer we live the more we find these little interesting snippets of info along with other history that was different than what we thought.

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 11:53 AM
interesting but not suprising !!
the roman empire, as history would have us believe, fell , collapsed, became no more or did it ?

the 13 families that ruled the roman empire are still in existance today, the house of dan became the rockerfellers, julius ceasar survived the attempt on his life and lived for a further 12 years just outside rome and commanded the will of the senate in secrecy, so i would imagine the decorations are still used somewhere today, i know i am a direct descendant of the roman emporers.

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 12:56 PM
reply to post by Crossfate
Thanks for posting. Interesting stuff.

During a brief period as an Art student, we were shown how certain colours in the past were rare and attracted high values. A good example is the 'Royal Purple' that was used to dye the robes of elite Roman aristocrats. The process was long and the dye was rare. To ensure the exclusivity of the dye, it was prohibited for lesser ranks to wear the colour on pain of disfigurement and worse. Even the Royal Courts of Medieval Europe maintained a 'copyright' on the red dyes used for the robes of monarchs.

If I recall correctly, the deep blues of lapis lazuli were highly sought by artists in Western Europe. Although more available in the Far East, guys like Michaelangelo used enough to cost the Vatican a fortune for the Sistine Chapel.

SnF for being a welcome relief from the current racial threads.

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 01:15 PM
It is possible that the Artist or whatever the correct term may be, who made the Altarpiece was well scholar and thus well read in ancient techniques just like many Artists are trained in all sorts of Art forms and styles.

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 01:28 PM
Good find. I wonder how long that pigment can be stored. Reason I'm asking is if it is one that was made for that job or if they used a long lost leftover from somewhere?

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 01:49 PM
reply to post by Frogs
Hiya Frogs, according to the article, it could keep for at least 800 years...

The geologist also says there is no evidence that people in Medieval times had knowledge of how to manufacture this pigment, which is made of copper silicate and calcium: "In fact it has never been found in any mural from the era." "The most likely hypothesis is that the builders of the church happened upon a 'ball' of Egyptian blue from the Roman period and decided to use it in the paintings on the stone altarpiece," Vendrell explains.

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 01:59 PM
The article sourced states that a ball of "paint" could have been found and used for the alter and once it was gone it was gone. Another idea may be that the entire alter piece was brought in intact already painted and installed in the church. Not an uncommon practice to re-use pieces of architecture.

[edit on 5-5-2010 by The Undertaker]

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 02:09 PM
reply to post by Kandinsky

Ahhh- That makes sense. When I posted that I was imagining something like..

Monk 1 - "Looks like the artwork is coming along nicely. Oooohhh - nice shade of blue. Where did you get that?"

Monk 2 - "I found this old paint down in the basement and thought I might as well use it."

posted on May, 5 2010 @ 02:18 PM
I think that this denotes mason influence/ templar.
And use of ancient egyption knowledge.
My uncle is a low level mason and i pestered him to tell me what he knows, but he wouldnt.
I done some online diggin and asked him about the Egyption connection. He was undoubtably suprised by the fact i knew about the link to paganism and egypt.
So i think that its a mason thing!

posted on May, 8 2010 @ 07:17 AM
blue goes way back to the middle neolithic in europe

maybe they just found the right rocks and figured it out... again.

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