Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


11 January 2014

The Blue Colour on the Akrotiri Wall-paintings: From the Palette of the Theran Painter to the Laboratory Analysis

Andreas Vlachopoulos & Sophia Sotiropoulou in Papadopoulos, A. (ed), Recent research and perspectives on the Late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean, Talanta XLIV (2012) [2013]: 245-272.


The pigments used for the blue tones in the Theran wall-paintings have been the subject of research since the early years of the Akrotiri Excavations. Specialists have detected the use of both ‘Egyptian blue’ or glaucophane riebeckite, the former a man-made pigment (one of the most ancient synthetic pigments originating from Egypt) and the latter a natural pigment (inosilicate minerals belonging to the group of the alkali amphiboles). In 2011-2012, the authors implemented a research programme, funded by the University of Ioannina and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP), aimed at clarifying the use of the two pigments in the Thera wall-paintings, by applying the recently developed non-invasive imaging method of infrared photoluminescence for the diagnosis of ‘Egyptian blue’. This paper presents the preliminary results of the project, which suggests that the selection of one or the other pigment, or even a combination of both pigments, by the painters was made on the basis of iconographic criteria, with the aim of achieving from a technical viewpoint the optimal aesthetic effect and chromatic tone, rather than of economizing or promoting a more expensive material.


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