New conclusions on the preparation of the Maya blue

New conclusions on the preparation of the Maya blue

After losing the formula with which the mayan blue pigment Used for centuries in Mesoamerica, a team of chemists belonging to the University of Valencia and the Polytechnic University of Valencia has developed a new hypothesis about its preparation.

The pigment ingredients are known to be from a vegetable dye and paligorskite clay, but their combination is not known.

The ancient mayans They incorporated it into sculptures, codices, ceramic pieces, palace walls, and even ceremonies, rituals, and human sacrifices. This dye stands out, in addition to its intense blue color, for the fact that it is highly resistant to chemical and biological deterioration, which is why, although it was used centuries ago, when it comes to analyzing it today it is practically unalterable.

The dominant version proposes that it was uniquely prepared mixing two components: an organic component that is obtained from the Indigofera suffruticosa plant and another inorganic, paligorskite clay that maintains a glass structure full of internal channels. But research conducted by the University of Valencia and the Polytechnic University of Valencia contradict the previous theory, stating that there is a third component, dehydroindigo, which may have been formed by the oxidation of indigo through exposure to heat.

Indigo is blue and dehydroindigo is yellowish therefore, the presence of the latter would justify the greenish tone of the Mayan blue, obtaining the desired tone by varying the cooking temperature or adding intensity to the fire with more wood at certain times.

Another of the unsolved riddles it is how the dye particles are distributed in the crystal lattice of paligorskite.

The study conclusions show that the components are subjected to temperatures between 120 and 180 ° C. In the first phase, the water evaporates from the paligorskite and the indigo binds with the clay, a part oxidizing to form dehydroindigo. In a second phase, the colorant is dispersed through the channels in the clay. Despite this procedure being the main result, the researchers believe that composition and casting may have varied over the years.

I was born in Madrid on August 27, 1988 and since then I started a work of which there is no example. Fascinated by both numbers and letters and a lover of the unknown, that is why I am a future graduate in Economics and Journalism, interested in understanding life and the forces that have shaped it. Everything is easier, more useful and more exciting if, with a look at our past, we can improve our future and for that… History.


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