19 February 2010

Secret to Mayan Blue Paint Found

Did you know, Maya Blue was first identified by Harvard archaeologist R. E. Merwin at Chichén Itzá in the 1930s.

Maya Blue (Spanish: Azul Maya) is a unique bright blue to greenish-blue pigment manufactured by cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, such as the Maya and Aztec.

Ancient Maya would paint unlucky people blue and throw them down a sacred well as human sacrifices. Now scientists have solved the mystery of how to make the famous blue pigment by analyzing traces on pottery left in the bottom of the well.

The Maya associated the color blue with their rain deities. When they offered sacrifices to the god Chaak, they would paint them blue in hopes he would send rain to make corn grow. The blue paint has been found on objects for a long time, but scientists have debated how the Maya created the pigment.

Now Gary Feinman, curator of anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, and Dean E. Arnold, a professor of anthropology at Wheaton College, have figured out the secret ingredient in the ancient Maya concoction.

Read the rest of the article on LiveScience here

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