EMU Volume 20 – Chapter 7

The Contribution of Mineralogy to Cultural Heritage

Chapter 7. Mineral pigments: the colourful palette of nature

I. Reiche

The use of minerals as pigments in art and on archaeological objects, from the use of ochre in prehistoric caves to the elaborate transformation and use in ancient and modern artist palettes, is reviewed in this chapter. Starting from the purposes of the study of pigments, the chapter presents current trends in the study of coloured minerals in cultural heritage science. It emphasizes through the use of case studies the potential of these minerals in terms of information about former ways of life and especially the artistic techniques employed in ancient times. This information is gained through knowledge of geological and physicochemical processes acting on minerals and on artefacts produced by human activities. Some new trends are presented as the state of the art of how to master most of the methods and techniques useful for investigating our common cultural heritage.

Full paper

Go to the table of contents for this book

Go to the Mineralogical Society’s online shop to buy a copy of the book from which this chapter is taken.