Course Code:

Π1 6050


6th Semester

Course Hours:




The Scope of the Course:
The aim of the course is to familiarize students with the various colored materials (organic and inorganic, natural and synthetic) that have been used over the centuries in the fields of painting, decoration and dying. The relevant historical overview starts from the oldest known applications of pigments (e.g. ocher & charred materials in rock paintings, prehistoric burial customs, etc.), includes information about ancient and medieval pigments / dyes, and ends up in the middle of the 20th century, a period in which many of the most widely used synthetic pigments / dyes are emerging. Moreover, the origins and stages of processing of natural pigments are described in detail along with the production of synthetic ones. The relevant discussion is enriched by quoting data from primary bibliographic sources such as the ancient Greek, Latin and medieval technical literature. Special mention is made of plant and animal organic dyes and the relevant lake pigments that were produced from them. A separate section is devoted to issues pertaining to miscibility / compatibility between different pigments as well as between pigments and specific binders, while the mechanisms of alteration and discoloration of various pigments and dyes are briefly presented. Also, the basic methods of minerals processing for pigment preparation are demonstrated (grinding, rinsing, differential precipitation, etc.), and, occasionally, specific methods of synthetic pigments preparation (e.g. lake) are showcased. Finally, a reference is made as regards the analytical techniques used for the identification of pigments / dyes (including demonstration of real specimens), which will also include instructions on sampling techniques and discussion of sampling permission issues.

Course objectives:
Upon completion of this course students will:
i. Know the nature and composition of mineral pigments, how they were formed (geologically), and the main methods of their extraction and processing
ii. Know the origin and composition of natural and artificial dyes, how they are formed and how they can be transformed to lake pigments
iii. Know the most important artificial pigments, when they were first manufactured and the main relevant methods of production
iv. Have understood the mechanisms of pigments’ decay, the behavior of pigments mixtures, and their compatibility with different binders.
v. Know how the micromorphological characteristics of the pigment grains (and consequently pigment processing) may affect their color
vi. Know which analytical techniques are used for pigments’ identification and provenancing
vii. Know the methods of sampling from cultural heritage objects in order to determine dyes and pigments, as well as the current status as regards sampling permissions.

Language of evaluation: Greek

Students’ evaluation (100%): preparation of a written essay and its presentation.
The relevant instructions are posted in the e-class of the course in due time.

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14. Kirby, J., Spring, M., Higgitt, C., (2005) The Technology of Red Lake Pigment Manufacture: Study of the Dyestuff Substrate, National Gallery Technical Bulletin 26, 71–87.
15. Mastrotheodoros, G., Beltsios, K. G., Zacharias, N., (2010), Assessment of the production of antiquity pigments through experimental treatment of ochres and other iron based precursors, Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 10(1), 37–59
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25. Riederer J., (1997), “Egyptian Blue”, στο Artist’s Pigments: A handbook of their history and characteristics, τόμος 3, εκδότης E. W. FitzHugh, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 23-45.
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27. Schweppe, H., Winter, J., (1997) “Madder and Alizarin”, στο Artists Pigments: A handbook of their history and characteristics, Volume 3. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 109–142.
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1. Studies in Conservation, Taylor & Francis.
2. Dyes and Pigments, Elsevier.
3. Journal of Cultural Heritage, Elsevier.
4. Archaeometry, Willey.
5. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, Springer.
6. Journal of the American Institute of Conservation, Taylor & Francis.
7. International Journal of Conservation Science, Romanian Inventors Forum.
8. Journal of Archaeological Science, Elsevier.