Maggie Maggio

Smashing Color for the 21st Century

Category: Color in Science (page 2 of 2)

Finding Family

The tradition in southern Italy is to name the first son after the father´s father, the second son after the mother´s father, the first daughter after the father´s mother and the second daughter after the mother´s mother.  As the third son, my husband was named after his father.  Because of the tradition, many names show […]

Colorful Cimetera

We went to the cemetery in Sciacca looking for Maggios long gone.  The first thing we noticed was the huge parking lot. In a town with very little elbow room there was an enormous amount of breathing space. Then we walked through the gate. I never thought about cemetaries as architectural places. In the states, […]

The Deep Blue Sea

We are staying this week in Sciacca, a middle sized town perched on a hillside on the southwestern coast of Sicily. All of my husband’s great grandparents – all eight! – were born in Sciacca and died in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Three of his grandparents were born here as well, before the families left for America at […]

Pompeian Red

As we arrived in Rome, my daughter asked what is the one thing you hope to do while in Italy? I replied, ” See the real Pompeian Red.” I have longed to see the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum since my first architectural history course. The reason had nothing to do with architecture or with history. The reason had to do […]

bonampak_mural2Last week the New York Times reported that the science world was a buzz with the publication of an article in Antiquities magazine solving the mystery of Maya Blue.  The color, often described as matching the Caribbean sky, is a brilliant turquoise blue. It is shown here  on a wall from the murals at Bonampak.

Most pigments are fugitive. They will fade over time, especially if exposed to the elements.  Maya blue  remains vivid on artifacts thousands of years old.

According to previous studies, Maya blue is made by fusing the mineral palygorskite with pigments from the leaves of the indigo plant. But the two ingredients do not readily combine, and it was unknown until now how the Maya fused them.

In the recent article archaeologists confirm the theory that copal incense was important to the production of Maya blue and that the preparation of the paint took place during the burning of incense at sacrificial ceremonies.  The bodies of the sacrificial victims were painted blue just before they were killed.  080226-maya-blue_170

The National Geographic article includes more information about the finding of a significant bowl from the Mayan ruins. “The bowl was discovered more than a century ago at the bottom of the Sacred Cenote, a large sacrificial sinkhole at the Maya site of Chichén Itzá, which was associated with the rain god Chaak.

Lead study author Dean Arnold of Wheaton College in Illinois first came across the pottery bowl while searching through the Maya collection at the Field Museum. He noticed that the bowl contained a wedge of preserved incense dotted with white flecks and a blue pigment.”  The flecks turned out to be palygorskite and indigo. Putting two and two together solved the mystery.

Listening to Ultramarine

A friend who collects healing rocks asked me to bring her back something from Tucson. She was very non specific about what she wanted. Her only instruction was to “listen.” There were over 40 different shows this year in the Tucson area, with thousands of vendors selling rocks, gems, beads. It didn’t take long walking […]

Newer posts