Raman identification of cuneiform tablet pigments: emphasis and colour technology in ancient Mesopotamian mid-third millennium

CHIRIU, DANIELE;RICCI, PIER CARLO;CARBONARO, CARLO MARIA;
2017

Abstract

Cuneiform tablets tell the life and culture of Sumerian people in a sort of black and white tale because of the binary engraving technique. A leading question arises: did Mesopotamian people apply some kind of colour to decorate their tablets or to put emphasis on selected words? Some administrative and literary Sumerian cuneiform tablets of mid-third Millennium B.C. from the site of Kish (central Mesopotamia, modern Iraq) were dug up in twentieth-century and stored at the Ashmolean Museum of the Oxford University. Non-destructive micro-Raman spectroscopy is a powerful technique to detect the presence of residual pigments eventually applied to the engraving signs. Yellow, orange, red and white pigments have been detected and a possible identification has been proposed in this work. In particular yellow pigments are identified as Crocoite (PbCrO4), Lead stannate (Pb2SnO4); red pigments − hematite (Fe2O3) and cuprite (Cu2O); White pigments − Lead carbonate (PbCO3), calcium phosphate (Ca3(PO4)2), titanium dioxide (TiO2), gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O); orange pigment a composition of red and yellow compounds. These results suggest that Sumerian people invented a new editorial style, to overcome the binary logic of engraving process and catch the reader's eye by decorating cuneiform tablets. Finally, the coloured rendering of the tablet in their original view is proposed.
Inglese
3
3
17
Esperti anonimi
scientifica
Analytical chemistry; Archaeology; Physical chemistry
Chiriu, Daniele; Ricci, PIER CARLO; Carbonaro, CARLO MARIA; Nadali, D.; Polcaro, A. .; Collins, P.
1.1 Articolo in rivista
info:eu-repo/semantics/article
1 Contributo su Rivista::1.1 Articolo in rivista
262
6
open
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