Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 384, Issue 6, pp 1356–1365 | Cite as

Anatase—a pigment in ancient artwork or a modern usurper?

  • Howell G. M. Edwards
  • Nik F. Nik Hassan
  • Paul S. Middleton
Original Paper


Fragments of wall-paintings from Roman villas in Easton Maudit, which date from ca 150 AD have been studied by Raman spectroscopy. An intact ancient Roman paint pot discovered in the remains of a villa in Castor, Cambridgeshire, still containing a mixture of white and red pigment was also analysed and the pigments identified as haematite and anatase. The discovery of anatase in the intact artist’s paint pot, particularly, and also on fragments of broken paint pots from the Easton Maudit villa site, is a unique contribution to current knowledge of ancient European pigment history, because the presence of this mineral has not hitherto been recognised fully in an ancient artist’s palette. The relative spectral response of anatase and haematite in the Raman data is compared with that of anatase and other red pigments such as minium, cinnabar, and litharge.


Roman villa Paint pot Raman spectroscopy Anatase 


  1. 1.
    Johnson O (ed) (2002) Photographic guide to minerals of the world. Oxford University Press, UKGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mandarino JA, Back ME (eds) (2004) Fleischer’s glossary of mineral species. 9th edn. The Mineralogical Record Inc., Tucson, Arizona, USAGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Duda R, Rejl L (1998) Rocks and minerals of the world. Tiger Publications, Twickenham, UKGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bouchard M, Smith DC (2005) Raman database of minerals and pigments. In Edwards HGM, Chalmers J (eds) Raman spectroscopy in archaeology and art history. Royal Society of Chemistry, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gettens RJ, Stout GL (1966) Painting materials: a short encyclopaedia. Dover Publ., New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Zuo J, Xu C, Wang C, Yushi Z (1999) J Raman Spectrosc 30:1053–1055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    deWaal D (2004) J Raman Spectrosc 35:646–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Burgio L, Clark RJH (2000) J Raman Spectrosc 31:395–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Skelton RA, Manston TE, Painter GD (eds) (1995) The Vinland Map and Tartar Relation. Yale University Press, New Haven (Conn., USA) and LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Donahue DJ, Olin JS, Harbottle G (2002) Radiocarbon 44:45–52Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    McCrone WC (1974) Chemical analytical study of the Vinland Map, Report to Yale University Library, New Haven, Connecticut, USAGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    McCrone WC (1988) Anal Chem 60:1009–1018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Towe KM (1990) Archaeological Chem Res 23:84–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cahill TA, Schwalo RN, Kusko BH, Eldred RA, Moeller G, Dutshke D, Wick DL (1987) Anal Chem 59:829–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Brown KL, Clark RJH (2002) Anal Chem 74:3658–3661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Edwards HGM, Farwell DW, Rozenberg S (1999) J Raman Spectrosc 30:361–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howell G. M. Edwards
    • 1
  • Nik F. Nik Hassan
    • 1
  • Paul S. Middleton
    • 2
  1. 1.Chemical and Forensic Sciences, The School of PharmacyUniversity of BradfordBradfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics and SciencesPeterborough Regional CollegePeterboroughUK

Personalised recommendations