Miscellany

Crystallography and antiquities

Diffraction can be employed to investigate the pigments used to decorate ancient Egyptian coffins and other artifacts and to determine how the artist’s palette varied in different parts of Egypt and the ways in which it changed over time. X-ray powder photography was used more than sixty years ago, by Jope and Huse (1940), to characterize a series of samples of Egyptian Blue, used on many ancient artifacts. Egyptian Blue, a copper calcium silicate, which is identical to the mineral, cuprorivaite; it was used widely across the ancient world from 3100 BC up until the 9th century AD.

Andrew Middleton, The British Museum , BCA Crystallography News, No. 78