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FP6

MED-COLOUR-TECH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 15406
Funded under: FP6-INCO
Country: Greece

Reviving the lost art of natural dyes and pigments

Efforts are being made to revive the lost art of making dyes from ingredients provided by Mother Nature. This also means that part of the Mediterranean's collective cultural identity is also being brought back to life.
Reviving the lost art of natural dyes and pigments
Artists in ancient times couldn't just pop down to their local arts supply store when their paints ran out. Painstaking recipes had to be followed using materials sourced from the natural world. These included plant leaves and roots, as well as insects.

This art has long since been forgotten, but efforts are underway to bring it back. In today's world, which places an increasing value on ecologically sound practices of resource consumption, the demand for naturally sourced dyestuffs is growing. This is just one reason the 'Investigation, revival and optimisation of traditional Mediterranean colouring technology for the conservation of the cultural heritage' (Med-colour-tech) project was funded by the EU.

Med-colour-tech project participants employed advanced analytical techniques to identify and characterise natural dyes and inks on ancient artefacts from the Mediterranean region. The historical records of several civilisations were also scoured for recipes for natural organic pigments. This information was then compiled into a database that was published on the Internet to facilitate sharing of this knowledge.

The multidisciplinary team involved in Med-colour-tech did not stop at theory, however, as it recreated several dyestuffs. In the process, ancient recipes were translated into physicochemical terms for easy replication and optimised using modern scientific techniques. These protocols, which have also been made available on the project website, will be of great value to organisations responsible for restoring ancient artefacts.

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